Intro to An Homage to Albrecht Dürer

I created this brief animation after receiving an email from a website devoted to Albrecht Dürer asking me if I could post a link on Illumination Gallery to their site. Illumination Gallery has two links pages. I put up the original links page the day the site came online nine years ago. Its title is self-explanatory: “Links Page (or 5 artists who shaped me).” Those 5 artists being William Blake, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, M. C. Escher, E. E. Cummings, and Jorge Luis Borges.  Then I have a page with personal links, pointing towards artists and thinkers I have gotten to know in the real world and online. Of course, I have grown/evolved as an artist. My initial aim in exploring digital art was to expand creatively.  I was a writer with an interest in media and a fascination with visual expression. I wanted to incorporate visuals into my writing. Thus far I am pleased with the results, but something happened along the way. On occasion I found myself veering toward creating purely visual works, and in this regard my artistic influences branched out to painters like Matthias Grünewald, Hieronymus Bosch, and Albrecht Dürer. I attained enough of a comfort zone as a digital artist to evoke/echo their imagery on my computer. What I strive for in the animation for which these words are an introduction is to offer a fleeting glimpse into Durer’s ability to capture the inner radiance of objects in nature.

I learned a few things from the above-mentioned Dürer website. Firstly, I discovered Dürer’s family name was actually Ajtós. Although Albrecht Dürer was born in Nuremberg, his father was Hungarian. Does that make the son Hungarian? And why is it even relevant? Honestly, it’s only relevant to me because I am Hungarian. I also learned that, like Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer was a respected scientist as well as a great artist. He published books entitled The Teaching of Measurements with Rule and Compass and Art of Fortification. For me it is precisely the fine line between scientific observation and artistic inspiration that defines Dürer’s best work. The root image for my animation is Dürer’s watercolor Wing of a Roller. This painting resonates for me because it celebrates beauty through paying careful attention to detail. Also, it possesses a tragic quality. A lovely bird had to die for the painting to breathe life. The painting is dated from 1512, meaning that in 1511, five hundred years ago, this bird was probably alive, flying through the forests of Germany. Dürer needed to place the birds’ wing before him to render his painting. Imagination based on distant observation wasn’t enough. For Dürer observation fueled imagination. Artists lacking a scientific bent can allow their desire to create something beautiful blind them to the underlying forces that separate art from artifice. In the late 15th/early 16th centuries Albrecht Dürer laid down a foundation for approaching art with passionate scientific detachment. As a 21st century digital artist, I find this inspiring.

This animation is dedicated to Laurie Spiegel, without whose influence, I would never have made a connection between Albrecht Dürer and digital art.

Animation duration: 24.9 seconds, before looping.

Peter Schmideg

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