4.11.2006

Dürer book

I was given a very cool book: Buntes Dürer-Büchlein, which was first published in 1940. This is very exciting: it has beautiful colored prints created by Albrecht Dürer in the 16th century.

The problem is that the introduction (which is quite long, considering it's a tiny book) is in German. Because I've had to translate French lately and maintain kanji-ridden Japanese, my German has become awful. So I have to get myself up to speed or ask someone to help me decipher the intro. And the font is in that annoying blocky style, as if they want to reflect Dürer's time.

Well, after I got the book and looked at the images, I went to the Art Institute to check out Dutch and German woodcuts from the 16th and 17th centuries (since they're similar and are in the same space). They only had a few of Dürer's, but it's better than nothing. And I'm lucky that I can walk down there easily :)

What I did notice, which I hadn't before, was that the Dutch woodcuts seemed like antecedents to Van Gogh's work. I'm sure he'd seen several of them, and was influenced by those and Japanese ones as well (I read his biography but I don't remember if he obsessed about Dutch woodcuts as much as Japanese ones).

So within that Dürer book is a perfect printed combination: foreign printed matter and art by a master.

4 comments:

Jon Konrath said...

I don't know if Van Gogh was inspired by Dutch woodcuts as much as both were greatly inspired by Japanese woodcuts. Van Gogh had a really, really big thing for Japonisme. But I think his closest Dutch influence was probably painting from the Hague School.

If you ever go to Amsterdam, the Van Gogh museum is really incredible. They managed to keep a lot of his primary works there, and have a lot of stuff from his various influences there, also. It's probably the best museum I've seen.

mj said...

Yeah, I know he was totally into Japanese art, but I do remember reading that he visited the museums a lot and looked at older European art, including 18th century French art (for the colors). But for sure, he was quite obsessed with Japanese stuff.

I went to the Van Gogh museum but was sort of rushed because I was with my family and we only took a day trip to Amsterdam from northwest Germany, and we all were going to the Ann Frank museum. But if I go back there again, I'm going to make sure I spend several hours there.

K.03.N.G said...

Hi,
it's nice to see you're into languages ... but I was wondering do you speak and write those different languages fluently or do you just know the basics?

Just wondering...

mj said...

Yeah, I'm into languages but unfortunately I don't have the discipline or talent to know several. I know how to speak and understand Japanese quite well, but I can't write it. I can read it okay. I used to be able to speak Portuguese and German pretty well, but right now I am rusty. I can read Portuguese, French, and Spanish okay. Basically, if I were to spend some time in Brazil or Portugal, a Spanish speaking country, France, or Germany, I'm sure I would end up speaking those languages quite well, but since I'm not immersed in the cultures and languages, then my speaking ability isn't great. Oh well.