Monday, October 11, 2010

“Renaissance Design: Standardization and Modularization in print”

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, ca. 1497–98
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528)
15 3/8 x 11 in. (39.2 x 27.9 cm)
Gift of Junius S. Morgan, 1919 (19.73.209)

"The third and most famous woodcut from Dürer's series of illustrations for The Apocalypse, the Four Horsemen presents a dramatically distilled version of the passage from the Book of Revelation (6:1–8): "And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and its rider had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, 'Come!' And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another; and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come!' And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and its rider had a balance in his hand; … When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, 'Come!' And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given great power over a fourth of the earth; to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth." Transforming what was a relatively staid and unthreatening image in earlier illustrated Bibles, Dürer injects motion and danger into this climactic moment through his subtle manipulation of the woodcut. The parallel lines across the image establish a basic middle tone against which the artist silhouettes and overlaps the powerful forms of the four horses and riders—from left to right, Death, Famine, War, and Plague (or Pestilence). Their volume and strong diagonal motion enhance the impact of the image, offering an eloquent demonstration of the masterful visual effects Dürer was able to create in this medium."
Source: Albrecht Dürer: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (19.73.209) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

If you look at the ‘Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ by Albrecht Durer in 1498, his delicate will amuse you and beautifully woodcut print. During seventeenth century, only small portion of European could read even though the visual and typographic texts established in printing industry, in order to produce information for European, the visual literacy grow rapidly. During letterpress era, typographic texts printed separated from visual imagery and the artist’s level of skill got improved through copperplate engraving developed. Copperplate engraving allowed them to explore in intaglio printing which is the various lines are carved in the clean plate surface and the lines were the one where the printed so that it brings the close effect to the drawing. Durer’s illustration is great example of this and his illustration depicts biblical apocalypse with indelible figures with his line work technique produced lighting effect of tonal differences through density, which brings his imagination well captured in his print. During Renaissance era, majority prints illustrate the concepts of bible along with faith and culture behind in it.

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