Out of all of the posts, I found Manutius’ Hypnerotomachia Poliphili most striking. The Hypernotomachia Poliphili, printed by Aldus Manutius, is a dream-like narrative and is an early example of early printing. The book is said to be one of the most beautiful books in the world, and I would have to agree. To begin with, the typography is very clear and although I do not know the language, it is very easy to read. What caught my attention the most were the exquisite details in the illustrations. The woodcuts show the scenery, architectural settings, and characters in Poliphilo’s dreams. The line work gives detail in images such as the wrinkles in the character’s clothing, as well as in the bark of the trees. Such detail demonstrates the amount of time and dedication the artist put into each illustration. The book is elegantly designed in black and white, and not overpowering; the illustrations are bordered and the text is not overwhelming. Together, the illustrations and text create an allegorical fantasy that to no surprise influenced future English illustrators.
I've always been a huge fan of Durer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I find that each time I see it, I am blown away by the immense detail and descriptiveness of his lines and forms in his woodcuts. He clearly has a sense of organization, creating a drama of swirling, energized figures that is legible and aesthetically pleasing to the viewer, being restricted to only black and white. His background as a metalworker caused him to apply the same methods of meticulousness to his work throughout his career. Because his method of work could create reproductions, his prints were seen by many and easily distributed, as is the nature of printmaking. But, by making a print that could be reproduced several times, does the value of the print go down with the number of reproductions? A single painting can be worth a fortune, while a series or addition of 10 prints can each be sold for less? Durer seems to have gained fame for these prints because so many people had the chance to see them and recognize their beauty due to their accessibility. But, with so many multiples does that make them less precious versus a painting that only someone with money could afford to purchase? Just a thought...
I think that Bianca’s question is a very interesting one. Do multiple copies of an artistic work lower its value? A single painting can indeed be worth a fortune, but it is quite easy to buy copies that range from quite inexpensive to rather pricey. There is only one original Starry Night by Picasso, but countless reproductions all over the world. I do not believe the value of the original does not lower with each new copy that is made. The genius behind the original is what makes an artistic work so worthwhile. Durer, for example, is indeed a master. His Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is unparalleled, both in terms of draftsmanship and in the emotion that it evokes. The fact that it was reproduced so many times means that people thought it worth spreading. In fact, I would argue that the more a painting or print is reproduced, the more precious it becomes. People do not spend time and money making copies of works they find inferior. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and each new copy only makes viewers aware of the value of the original.
It is interesting how book design and the period of enlightenment brought about the idea of the public sphere, “an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action” (WKPD). I suppose this occurred as an effect of more widespread printing and the ease of information sharing. It is fascinating, then, to examine how the public sphere has evolved into what it is today due to the new technology we have acquired. Books are a ‘one-to-many’ form of communication since one author is sending his/her message to a larger audience. Thus, in the period when the idea of the public sphere first came about, physical meetings were necessary to support these discussions and debates on issues of the time. Now, however, the internet has made ‘one-to-one’ and ‘one-to-many’ communication feasible (examples include instant messaging and blogging, respectively). Because of these technologies, the dialogue typical of the public sphere is more plentiful and accessible today than ever before, and seems only to be growing…
As I was reading all the posts showing the intricacy of the fonts, illustrations and page design of books I couldn’t help to think about how books at one point were as revolutionary as the internet is today. We take advantage of printed work today; anything could be printed and replicated in a matter of seconds. I feel that the post Communities of Belief could be literally talking about the internet, how ‘Communities of belief were built on shared reading and thought rather than a common location.” This is exactly true with the internet. Blogs and chartrooms are modern ways how people share opinions from anywhere in the world. The post also said that the “public sphere (17th and 18th century) depended on the availability of printed matter” but the modern public sphere is depended on the availability of internet access. I believe that just as the world was going through a period of enlightenment during the 17th and 18th century we are also going through enlightenment during the 20th and 21st century.
I never tire of seeing Albrecht Durer's Four Horsmen of the Apcolypse. Everytime I look at it I find there is something new to discover. I am always impressed by the amount of detail that goes into his pieces, and though it is a busy piece each element is very clear and easily discernable. His ability to achieve spatial and lighting effects through tonal variation and to organize complicated groupings into legible forms is unparallel, even a sense of texture is evident. There is truly no one else like him.I think Bianca raises a very valid question, not just pertaining to Durer's work but in general. But does this make Durer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse less valuable because there is more than one print?-Giovanna Garcia.
Addressing Bianca and Ashley's point. Supply and demand. One reason photography may not be as esteemed by some collectors and gallerists is precisely that of duplicability.
I disagree with Bianca Lynn’s contemplation that the value of the art declines as the number of reproductions increases. Does the Sistine Chapel lose magnificence every time a textbook shows a picture of it? Despite how many times you see it in print (or media other than the original), the Sistine Chapel will never fail to awe you when you stare up for hours absorbing every inch of Michelangelo’s labor. The woodcut, or the original, I believe holds the most value, despite the amount of repetitions. I don’t believe that anyone could replicate exactly what Durer did in this piece. The labor that Durer must have endured to complete the whole Apocalypse series cannot be fully appreciated by distributing numbers of ink impressions of the block. I agree that the repeatability of his work contributed to Durer’s fame and success but I don’t believe that it was at the expense of his work’s value; on the contrary-- I agree more with Ashley Nicole’s perception that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
The age covered in these posts shows a leap in human evolution. The 'encyclopeiste' represented the boundaries of human understanding with respect to the natural world, while the development of maps depicts a radical shift in world perspective. As much of the unknown seemed to be uncovered through scientific research and world exploration, the public could gain access to such new and exciting information via graphic reproduction. Diderot knew that by being able to explain the components of our world, and visually representing each in turn, people could potentially educate themselves completely, given they were literate in the first place. On the other hand, maps allowed even the illiterate majority to gain access to new worlds of knowledge. The new maps broadened the perspectives of all Europeans, especially since cartographers had gained an advanced knowledge of depicting an entire globe onto paper in a visually comprehensive and relatively simple way. I'm sure we'll see as cartography advances through in the 1800's new methods of globe-slicing which provide significantly less distortion. At this point in time, one would have difficulty approximating distances from one point point on the map to another, but i'm sure Hondius was more interested in getting all of the information on the page in a way that made sense, which was his biggest challenge.~Laura P.
In my opinion, the most impressive piece in this collection is Albrecht Durer’s, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This work established Durer as one of the first great illustrators. His piece, unlike a lot of work during the Renaissance, is not stagnant; instead there is an explosive momentum to the horses that carry them across the picture plane. One way in which he shows this motion is by using cross-hatching in the clouds. They appear to be moving right to left. Also, Durer is able to show the effects of the wind on the horse and rider’s hair. Their clothes also appear to be flapping. The composition of the piece is triangular and at the top is an angel watching in dismay as these four “apocalyptical spirits” kill everything on earth. The expressiveness of each face is also impressive. The fact that this is a woodcut makes it even more remarkable than if it was a freehand drawing.
Erhardt Ratdolt's Euclid's Elements of Geometry caught my attention instantly and I believe it is a perfect example of Renaissance Humanism and gradual development of rationalism. This book contains mathematical proofs and theories that are still used today. It’s a representation of the advancements made by mankind by that time. The image shown on the post as a page from the book shows the level of detail that went into creating this piece. It is both beautiful and filled with rational ideas and empirical findings, three of the key components of humanism. To me humanism was a movement of free-expression, where the people were free to look beyond the boundaries set by the church. The self-admiration present during humanism (ex. Fascination with the beauty of human form) is displayed through the art presented in these posts. Intricate designs and great attention to detail visually celebrate this new found mentality. Later on, with the development of rationalism, a quest for knowledge and concrete understanding give rise to books and images that are more so meant to inform than to dictate, for example the Encyclopaedia done by Denis Diderot, and the Henricus Hondius' world map.
William Blake's poetry and artwork is what struck me most. I was surprised to learn that Blake was such a talented painter as well as a notable and gifted poet. His combination of flowing words and beautifully crafted images just goes to show how powerful not only images can be, but how moving they can be when paired together. While Blake was a bit ahead of his time, his work is seen today as not only beautiful, but influential as well. His attention to detail and craft, which probably stemmed from his close study of Michelangelo's and Raphael's engravings, allowed Blake to experiment with figure distortion to express his inner most visions.
It is interesting to note that with the movement of Humanism, humanity at the end of the 14th century was already so advanced in culture as to look past the religious subjects and back at old masters like German printer Erhardt Ratdolt's printing of Euclid's Elements (I've had to work through Euclid's propositions, in basic English font with basic geometric diagrams--this work by Ratdolt was amazing)and then later in the 19th century when Blake brings Dante's Divina Commedia to life once again. This reflection, consideration, and reworking of things in the past is something that still preoccupies us today. In earlier posts there was discussion of quality vs. quantity and relating it to the sales and value of art. For me it's more about the expression of an idea and the process by which you come to it. I can't really put painting in a hierarchy over printing (or photography), just because there is only one original painting by a great master doesn't mean there aren't a million reproductions of that painting. I'm sure that some do rank the arts this way but I can't. Dürer's prints like Knight, Death, and the Devil are just as profound as his Self-Portrait or his watercolor Young Hare. He had a precision that was truly remarkable. I was also really impressed by Geoffroy Tory's engraving, which was completely new to me.
I think it is very important to recognize the powerful impact the printing technology brought to these times and more specifically to graphic design. The dissemination of knowledge and the importance this invention gave in shaping the Renaissance culture was incredible and graphic design became an integral part of the printing industry that was flourishing. A new cultural sensibility began and a humanistic approach towards artistic and intellectual tasks was placed. Graphic designers became a powerful tool in disseminating style and giving form to all these different texts in the new market that was evolving. Also, I think it is interesting to see how since the beginning, things such as ‘perspective’ and ‘space’ began to be seen as important techniques to be used in all those visual compositions; consequently helping other sub industries grow such as the engraving and papermaking industries. Woodcuts then became popular and then illustrated books flourished. Additionally, the invention of the print industry served as a great tool in improving mapmaking techniques, this being one of the things that struck me the most. In times of colonization, the colonial expansion took European values into new territories and printed images played and important part in the creation and spread of ideas. Therefore, once again proving the importance of the graphic representations in the advancement of the natural sciences, anticipating just the beginning of the integral part print had in the transmission of ideas.
Geoffrey Tory's work is unique in that in his Books of Hours, the pictures take up most of the pages while the words do not take up so much room. I find it captivating that there are so many seperated pictures bordering the page with a complete drawing in the middle. There are pictures bordering a picture and the design element is excellent, especially the lines which seperate everything into compartments. Each page is truly a work of art and even the font used for the type is decorative. It makes me wonder whether each picture is a symbol with everything interrelated or if they are just decorative to give a certain mood. Looking at the two pages, I am put in a calm and contemplative mood with the way the pictures all flow together. I think the ratio of illustrations to words is the most interesting part because it is an opposite approach to how books are commonly designed and it is more comparable to a children's book.
I found the post on the encyclopedia that Denis Diderot created the most interesting. The fonts, layout and illustrations used are all visually pleasing. Some of the featured excerpts were sort of humorous; there is somewhat of a prevailing, pompous tone and some of what was written was merely opinion being disguised as fact. However a noble sense that the rational prevails over the irrational does come through… I particularly liked how peace was described: “If reason governed men and had the influence over the heads of nations that it deserves, we would never see them inconsiderately surrender themselves to the fury of war; they would not show that ferocity that characterizes wild beasts....” It’s kind of sad that encyclopedias in book format have been completely replaced by the virtual kind. While it has offered the masses a more economic, accessible alternative to costly volumes, I did enjoy the nostalgic smell of the leatherbound Encyclopedia Brittanicas my family had as a kid.
There is two images that distinctively stick out, imagines Morti – dance of death by Hans Holbeins, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse by durer, maybe becaue of the graphic nature or the detail used. At the same time, they both offer something that was so viewed frequently and without stereotype and that was death. The dance of death, easily titled but I feel like the image carries numerous connotations to it. The dead corpse leading the lingering living body to its grave reminds me of the blind leading the blind, the dead man leading the soon to be dead man to its last resting point. Hans did not soften up the idea of death with this woodcut but made it very easily to identify with the dead because every person is gradually being led to their final destination. Death has never been a new discovery, and his interpretation of the last walk is almost comical, your death has already occurred long before you realized, but know it is time for you to witness that last walk in the hands of you, your own overseer. Durer’s four horsemen explain the same thought process as Mortis woodcut explains but used in different light. Here he has the death of his people due to forces unknown to the persons of that time, and when there is no explanation to the reason why sadness and death is so overwhelming, you blame the gods or in this case you say the gods are not happy. And as does the Morti, Durer does a phenomenal job in completing his narrative to his life story of plague, famine, social, and religious upheaval. His 4 horseman relay the thought of death and uncertainty, the realization that there is no ending of this until lives will be sacrificed. The woodcut bleeds a thousand lives in its images, and its magnificent detail embodies the pain and suffering that went on.
Tanya Chen's comment: I agree with what Lauren said : "just as the world was going through a period of enlightenment during the 17th and 18th century we are also going through enlightenment during the 20th and 21st century." With the fast development of science and engineering, we are taking advantage of the Internet. For different purposes, distinct types of design emerged. For example, as chatting online becomes more and more popular, new fonts are created and put into use by young people. A variety of emoticons are also invented and employed to express various meanings. For instance, ORZ, which is used to express worship, is one of the most widely used emoticons. It is absolutely beyond of imagination in the 17th and 18th century! Most of people believe that we are experiencing an incredible development; however, it is almost impossible to say whether in the future we will decrease the speed. As we can predict, in the 23rd or 24th century, many more types of design will appear which is far from out imagination now. The charm of history lie on the fact that through the analysis of the design from 17th to 19th century, we can, to some extent, get to know the people's ideas and culture at that time, and similarly our offspring can learn our stories through the analysis of our design.
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