Thursday, April 4, 2013

D for Durer


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) fits the definition of a Renaissance man (though German rather than Italian). He was a painter, an engraver, a printmaker, and a mathematician who wrote books on geometry and human proportions.

          Of all of these, I have a special preferences for his woodblock prints and engravings because of the delicacy and intricacy of the fine lines. To make a woodcut the artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood, gouging out the parts he wants to remain white and leaving the part to be printed level with the surface. The block is then covered with ink and applied to paper. It sounds as though this technique would be clumsy and that only large, bloblike images would show. But look at this woodcut of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:



There are blacks, grays, whites, all shades of monochrome, and the fine detailing looks like it was drawn with very fine pen and ink. Incredible to realize that this was all cut out of wood.

Here are some more examples of Dürer woodcuts:

St. Michael the Archangel
The Nativity


  1. Wow, the detail in those woodcuts is amazing! I have such admiration for artists who have the patience and dedication to create such intricate works. Thanks for introducing me to Durer!

  2. I like A. Durer's work. I admire the intricate detail he achieves.

  3. So much detail carved in to the wood.

  4. So interesting how all of this comes about!

  5. What a great series! My brother once gave me a beautiful woodblock print of that same era, but he took it back later and gave me a Kathe Kollowitz print in exchange. A happy arrangement.

  6. Amazing! I remember in school we cut designs in linoleum and it wasn't as easy as one would think to get the finer details right. We made prints from those designs. I have a lot of admiration to him for the fine detail that he achieved. Interesting stuff!