The art print ICO is an official, museum-grade giclee of the box art painting by Fumito Ueda for the PlayStation game ICO (2001). Ueda is the lead designer at Team ICO and director of the video games ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. With the rising fame and status of Ueda's video games over the years, ICO's cover art has become one of the most iconic video game artworks in modern history. This official PlayStation art giclee print reproduction forms a set with the artwork 'NICO', also by Team ICO. NICO is one of the first known images of Shadow of the Colossus.
ICO was one of the first video games labeled 'art' by both the public, media and critics. In interviews Fumito Ueda has spoken regularly about his artistic intentions with his games and his sources of inspiration from the visual arts. For instance, the box art painting and print ICO references the artworks by the Italian surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico (1888 – 1978), specifically the painting The Nostalgia of the Infinite. According to Ueda the surrealistic world of Chirico's artworks matches the allegorical world of ICO.
ICO is a puzzle adventure game about a boy that is locked in castle because he is born with horns on his head and that is seen as a bad omen. In the castle he meets the mysterious girl Yorda who is also being held captive there. What follows is an adventure that sees ICO and Yorda trying to escape the castle. It is said that when Fumito Ueda started development on ICO he had never seen a castle in real life before and that he drew a lot of inspiration from the works of Italian architect Piranesi (1720 –1778), famous for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric prisons. Ueda also references the etchings of French artist Gerard Trignac. These parallels between the work of Piranesi and the video games by Ueda were also explored in Cook & Becker's large museum exhibition Next-Gen Art Event (NGAE) in 2014/2015.
The cover art prints ICO and NICO are connected in a way. NICO is a portmanteau of 'Next Ico'. The N in Japanese stands for the number 2 which makes NICO (later renamed to Shadow of the Colossus) a sort of spiritual follow-up to ICO. Both games share the same dreamlike aesthetic, desatured color palette and Bloom lighting. There are also a lot of thematic similarities between the two titles. For example, the horns on the head of the main character in the artwork NICO foreshadows the ending of Shadow of the Colossus that sees a baby born with horns. ICO starts with a horned boy. Shadow of the Colossus has therefore also been called a prequel to ICO even though Fumito Ueda himself remains vague about this. Ueda's The Last Guardian, the eagerly awaited PlayStation game released late in 2016, completes the trilogy of sorts. This video game has long carried the working title TRICO and TRICO is also the name of the main creature in this game.
All three games share the same visual style but also other returning elements from Ueda's work such as the theme of companionship or friendship. Shadow of the Colossus explores the bond between Wanderer and Agro. ICO is partly about the relationship between Yorda and ICO and in The Last Guardian about the boy and the furred creature. All three games also share the minimalist style of storytelling that is part of every Ueda game, who has been inspired in that regard by the work of the French game developer Eric Chahi, the creator of the seminal video game Another World that was released in the nineteen nineties. Both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus have been very influential video games. Not only for other video game designers but many artists from various disciplines.
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