Friday, July 22, 2011


Photograph by Dan Taylor. See more of Dan's photographs here.

Ladder symbolism in art could mean anything from climbing the rungs of success, ....... to a means of communication between man and God .... earth and heaven.

Journeys 2 by Lin Lisberger. See more amazing pieces in this series, here.

I am drawn to the ladder for its symbolism .... it's shape .... the rhythm created by the rungs .... as well as the memories attached.

Another wood sculpture by Lin Lisberger. See more here.

I'm thinking of an old oak tree from my childhood .... far older than the oldest person on earth..... I was told. Propped against it, the top rungs disappearing into the foliage, was a tall (and wide) weathered ladder. To this day I don't know what it was used for.... maybe roof repairs ... but the thing that stands out in my mind, is the view from the top ..... which made me feel very heady and almost powerful enough to fly. Almost....

Studio Ladder by Igor Kamyanov. See Igor's Flickr photo stream here.

For me, the ladder in Igor's painting symbolizes my dream of having a studio built above the garage where I will have a view but more importantly I will have my own space to work in.

Jacob's Ladder by Lyndal Hargrave. More of Lyndal's work here.

This piece is by Robert Rauschenberg. "The work consists of two separate canvases, each the height of a man. A wooden ladder bridges the gap between them, and its legs extend to the floor, inviting the viewer to climb into the picture".

Photo of Anselm Keifer's work taken by catheadsix on Flickr.

Reverie #3 by Graceann Warn. Encaustic, Oil and objects on wood panel. Website here.

Awakening Breath no.1 by Patti Roberts-Pizzuto and Johntimothy Pizzuto. See blog here.

Ladders by Adrian Lawson. I wish we could see each painting individually but you can visit the Hand Held Gallery and click on the picture to enlarge it.

"Every positive change -- every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness -- involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception." - Dan Millman


  1. I'm sorry about the small text but Blogger is up to its tricks. The colours have changed too. Grrrrr....

  2. This is a very unusual subject and a beautiful post. The first picture was especially striking and powerful and after slowly reading through I found the last quotation very moving. Thank you for this Robyn.

    ps: I have my chrome browser magnified at 120% so reading this was a breeze.

  3. As usual Robyn, an excellent post with wonderful photographs. I have recommended your site to friends, I do hope they visit you.

  4. thinking of the ladder as "process" like the spiral, which together (spiral and ladder) reminds me of the double helix dna. (inside and outside/dreams and tactile world).

    childhood trees, what a memory door! New perspectives, texture, tactile pleasure, scent, light through leaf, my brother... feeling the ancient surge of pulp compressed wisdom strength, the bird's who shared them, sometimes the fruit, sometimes tree sap, nuts, forts, kisses. :)

    truly loved the Merton quote this morning.


  5. Wonderful post and art. Very inspiring. I needed that last quote as I am in a period of discomfort with my painting, good to know I will come out the higher end :-). xoxo

  6. I loved this post and was inspired by the art, thank you.

  7. Fabulous post about ladders! I hadn't even thought about the symbolism...and several new artists I am not familiar with to boot....always fun to see what you have in store for your loyal readers Robyn!

  8. Thought you'd like this Robyn:


  9. Robyn--thank you as always for sharing your thoughtful mind, heart and eyes with us. Ladders--what a great metaphor! One of my favorite ladder paintings is the one of Georgia O'Keefe's ladder going into the night, which always makes me feel that lovely, shivery feeling of mystery. And this ladder you've shown us of Robert Rauschenberg's--the space between gives me pause for thought.

  10. Well-chosen and suggestive images, Robyn. Thankyou.

  11. Wow love these, especially the wood pieces.

  12. There's no doubt that ladders are symbolically very significant in art. Love the various takes on the theme.

  13. You have given me something new to think about. I don't believe I have ever thought of ladders in art. I too remember being in a tall maple tree when I was young. That feeling of being about to see and not be seen. Looking down on all that was normally making me feel small. I felt to tall and free.

  14. des ├ęchelles pour monter au paradis de la peinture, sculpture..

  15. "almost fly"... I must write that paragraph down so I'll always have it. Evocative, magical.

  16. Hi Robyn, yes, something about ladders - for me it's totally symbolic - I have always hated to climb ladders - fear of heights, I guess. Maybe I like ladders because of the game -'Snakes and ladders' - the quick sneaky trip to the top avoiding the pitfalls along the way - hmmm
    ....and yes, my immediate reaction to Barry's spiral beads was the same as yours - spiral envy?? xoxoxox

  17. R- F and I sometimes think and talk about life and the various aspects of it in terms of snakes and ladders. The ladders are the way up - snakes the way down. There are days, events and people who are ladder types and those that are snake types - some lift you up whilst others want to take you down. Thanks for the great images but also the opportunity to reflect. Go well and may you get that elevated studio space that is all yours. B

  18. Priya, glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for the Tumblr link.

    ... chrome browser magnified... 120%.... I'm going to pretend i know what you are talking about.

    Weaver, thanks for the recommendation. I thought of your mobile phone post today when my phone went on the blink.

    Mansuetude, another memory connected to that tree....all the hens used to climb the ladder to roost in the tree at night. We would go out with a torch and shine up into the tree to see many startled hens looking down on us. So startled were they that they laid eggs from a dizzy height and of course the floor was littered in smashed eggs. At the time it was great fun but thinking about it now i would have given those kids a damned good hiding.

    Thanks Annie (Bohemian), it's a quote I should remember more often.

    Wax beach Artist, so glad you enjoyed the post!

  19. I so enjoy your posts - I actually had not thought of ladders in art before, but you are right, they are so pregnant with symbolism. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Cynthia, who would think of a post about ladders! But suddenly there were so many artworks with ladder symbology that I began to think about it.

    Pamela, thank you!

    Hannah, I had forgotten about Georgia O'Keefe's ladder!Aah well this post could have been 3 times longer with all the others I didn't put in.

    Gardner in the Distance, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Dyche Designs, yes the wood pieces tug my heart strings every time.

    Jo, I enjoy pondering about the symbolism behind artworks especially when looking at the titles.

    Lisa at Greenbow, yes the being "invisible" while sitting high up in the tree was rather exciting...

    Elfi, I'm trying to remember whether I've seen ladders in some of your paintings....

    Shayla, I'm flattered, thank you.

    Noela, exactly... I also felt spiral envy!

    Barry, you are so right....snake people and ladder people .... most people in our blog world are ladder people.

  21. What a beautiful post and beautifully illustrated. There is something about the climb. I always think of it as upward--an ascension--never the other way 'round.

  22. We had a big wooden ladder into the barn loft when I was a child. I loved to climb it.
    Ladders in art, and dreams; connecting one level to another, a passage as has been said.

    Studio ladder by Igor Kamyanov is a compelling image isn't it? Ascending to the creative space by ladder is yet another transition.

    My wish for you is that you hold on to that dream, keep it firmly between your ears and in your heart, for you deserve it! Manifest.

  23. I have always been intrigued by the use of ladders in art and the many interpretations they bring to mind. Thank you so much for bringing these wonderful examples together in one place.

  24. I've never thought of using a ladder line in my work, but now I see it's a beautiful repition and I am instantly drawn in!

  25. and here's another

    Hossein Valamanesh

  26. The work of Lin Lisberger is just wonderful... especially love Journeys 2.
    Definately some symbolism with ladders in art.

    Jacky xox

  27. Ladders are certainly there to go up or down - lovely images & quotes. Couldn't enlarge - I'll come back when tecnology is improved ;)

    I must have been working too hard (!) as i've just had to catch up on 2 other posts! Your door is fabulous, just wonderful. I need to pin AW's quote somewhere prominent.

    Thanks for trying so hard to get to me, your second comment did make me laugh!

  28. Inspiring post again, as usual. Thanks for sharing.

  29. In Google Images search for "martin puryear" +"fort worth". His ladder is in a room that is two stories high, the best part is going upstairs and looking down at it from the balcony above. I love ladders -- an escape route!

  30. Leave it to you Robyn to find the meaning and metaphor of the 'ladder'- both physically in art works and abstractly in thought behind the works- amazing connections.

  31. Oh my - so beautiful Robyn. Each of these took my breath away a little- they are so potent and haunting and dream-like. I think ladders do connect; sometimes they rescue; sometimes they let you escape...such powerful symbols. I have been playing with them in my own art - but these are spectacular.

  32. exquisite collection - thought provoking and inspiring.

    reminds me of a workshop where we were shown an object to write about - a ladder that narrowed until the legs met at the top. we were meant to imagine a use for it...

  33. Ladders have always held a lot of meaning for me, too. For one, when I was a child, after having seen "Mary Poppins", my friend and I put up a ladder in her yard, from which we intended to leap- holding onto an umbrella, of course- and fly away in the wind! I have done a few pieces with ladders, which have meant different things at different times. All of these pieces are just amazing, and I must now spend several hours exploring the work of the artists who made them. Thank you for the introductions!

  34. Who would imagine that such a simple motif could be so diversely interpreted? Thank you for sharing these works. It shows the scope of your imagination that you would choose 'ladders'!

  35. I love ladders, too, especially ones going up into the sky with no destination apparent. I have a vision of making tiny ladders someday and putting them in key places around the garden.. so many instincts to follow!
    Thanks for all the wonderful work to sit with.

  36. really inspiring me a lot!!!
    thanks for that amazing post!!!


  37. Heather, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Laura,yes I also think of the climb. We must be positive people :-)

    Thanks Leslie, I am holding on to that dream.

    Seth, it was fun to find so many images very quickly.

    Lucky Dip Lisa, I can definitely see ladder imagery making their way into your work.

    India, thanks for the link.

    Jacky, oh yes Journeys 2 really appeals to me too. I think it's my favourite Lisberger piece.

    Emma, I hope technology improves for the next post. Nothing seems to be happening with this one.

    Cerulean, glad you enjoyed the post Eric.

    Susan M, Love this ladder and the fact that it is squiggly.

    Donna, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed doing this post.

    Fiona, they are quite haunting aren't they. Have a look at the rest of Lin Lisberger's series. They are so stunning.

    Magpie, I don't know where I would start with a topic like that. Food for thought.

  38. Sharmon, I think Mary Poppins probably initiated quite a few precarious adventures :-)

    Jackie, Lin Lisberger's ladder was all the inspiration I needed.

    Valerianna, looking forward to seeing your tiny ladders in the garden. Let me know when you do.... sooner rather than later :-)

    Elena, so glad you are inspired!!

  39. Your art are magnificent. Wonderful

  40. Dear Robyn, i am here this morning thinking about my own paintings and about focal points and imagery. Your ladders have just jumped out at me crying "draw me!" Who knows, maybe I will!
    And I love your words about ladders, especially your last quote, and the work of Graceann Warn.
    I hope you are having a fantastic week! roxanne

  41. And I love the story of you oak tree, "far older than the oldest person on earth," and the memories it evokes.

  42. Hi Robyn,

    Just catching up with you. LOVE seeing your finished commission in the last post. I also found this post interesting because of the subject matter. Different. I so agree with the Millman quote at bottom.

  43. Some powerful images here. The Rauschenberg looks like a tempting climb.

  44. I too am intrigued by ladders. I have a small one in an assemblage I am working on. Great examples, as usual!

  45. fantastic...I love the sculptures especially....symbolic of carrying us up when we are longing to be closer to that which cannot be seen...and they yet turned inward can carry us deeper into ourselves as well to find the still point that we thought was beyond our own reality.