Thursday, June 11, 2009

Albrecht Dürer

Pairing the woodcuts and watercolors of German artist Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) with photos of the animals shows off his talents. He was much admired during his lifetime by Italian Renaissance artists for his detail, but also by the public, as the development of inexpensive printing methods put his illustrations in their hands. Yet they were much more than illustrations: Durer is credited with raising print-making to a fine art form. His religious subjects and self-portraits outnumber his animals, but I think these have a particular charm. And accused of being literal-minded, I am drawn to their realism - even though it is known that the rhinocerous was not drawn from life, but based on another artist's description and sketch. Its flaws have been pointed out, but the artist was mortal after all, as his epitaph testifies.

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