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Albrecht Durer - the Parasite

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The Parasite

Albrecht Durer was a man of many talents, occupations, and fascinations. He was the very essence of the word "Renaissance man." He studied mathematics, geometry, and horticulture, but more importantly, was a leading Renaissance artist in Germany. Durer effectively altered the course that German Renaissance art was taking, and steered it through the Alps, planting its base in Italy. He combined German realism with Italian form. The paintings, woodcuts and engravings that he designed were of such brilliance, that one could assume that there never will be another Albrecht Durer.

Albrecht Durer's personal life was characterized by one word, "misfit." As a young child growing up in the late 1400s, he stood out from his classmates due to his superb intellect and stunning artistic abilities. Later in life, he supported the Southern Renaissance movement, which was viewed as grotesque by many of his Northern colleagues, and thereby lowering his already under par status to that of an outcast. He himself said in one of his trips to Italy, "Here (in Italy), I am a gentleman; at home I am a parasite." This was, however, before he became a firm believer in the Reformation asserting that, "Martin Luther had written more clearly than anyone else had in one hundred and forty years" (Schaeffer 97). Martin Luther's teachings effected how he viewed the Renaissance, and dulled his enthusiasm he had for it.

While Albrecht Durer created many beautiful woodcuts and engravings, two of his portrayals are generally viewed as being true masterpieces, a tier above the rest. These two printmakings, "Saint Jerome" and "Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse" were both based on biblical and religious themes, but very different in their forms. The "Saint Jerome" woodcut is a very still picture, radiating peace, calm and solitude. On the other hand, the four horsemen of the apocalypse are depicted trampling down the evil in a blood-ridden slaughter; a stark contrast of the former. While almost the entire "Saint Jerome" woodcut is shaded in with lines "The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse" has relatively little line shading. These two works of art were some of the finest ever produced and continue to be admired for the sheer artistic excellence they delineate.

Printmaking was a popular, affordable process by which to make art during the Renaissance. The first step in this process required the artist to draw a design on a small block of wood. The parts that were to remain white were then cut away leaving the outlines standing out from the rest. This was then taken to a printer's workshop to be inked and then pressed against paper to create the final product. Thirty years after woodcuts were introduced to Europe, engraving



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