Wow! What fun: my childhood artistic hero Albrecht Durer “penned” this funny self-portrait in a 1506 letter to a friend. He supposedly was drunk at the time. I wasn’t drunk when I drew mine ca. 1980, but ‘altered states’ are a common artistic pitfall.
I zeroed in on Durer because of his “natural history” drawings and prints (as opposed to ghastly Christian advertising.) It wasn’t only his masterful technique, but a “sensibility” toward nature; scientific in quality, but conceptually transcendent, as if he merged with the animal or plant he was describing, and in an act of visual wizardry, revealed their essences, their “souls” if you wish. He did this by simply recognizing them as important “beings” in and of themselves; he revealed a world of integrated plants and animals outside the typical human blindness to nature as anything but a “resource” for human exploitation.
It was my desire to become a printmaker, but instead of going to art school, I was offered a job at a graphic design studio: I can see now that Durer’s greatest appeal and influence on me was as the “godfather” of graphic design. (I later studied geology) His work is modern; it remains so, because he is a fine original designer. His “sensibility” has been copied, expanded and his “eye for placement and relationship” of text and image is superb – and has spread across time and space; across cultures.
“Melancholia” 1503 / What artistic-science curious teenager wouldn’t be drawn to this image?