By Christopher S. Wood
The 1st self sustaining or ‘pure’ landscapes in Western paintings have been produced in southern Germany within the first a long time of the 16th century. They have been painted, drawn and etched by way of Albrecht Altdorfer of Regensburg and his in simple terms a little bit much less flamboyant modern Wolf Huber of Passau. those radical experiments in panorama seemed with out strengthen detect and disappeared from view virtually as suddenly.
Altdorfer switched over open air settings right into a theatre for sophisticated draughtsmanship and indulgent color results. while, his landscapes provided a densely textured interpretation of that quintessentially German locus, the woodland inside. during this revealing learn Christopher S. wooden indicates how Altdorfer prised panorama out of its subsidiary function as atmosphere and heritage for narrative background portray and devotional works, and gave it a brand new, self sufficient lifetime of its personal.
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Extra resources for Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape
Frontal portraits of Christ, in medieval tradition, all derived from an authentic original fabricated by direct physical contact with Christ’s face. All such portraits shared in the prestige of the acheiropoeton, or the image made ‘without hands’, without the unreliable intervention of a human artist. Dürer thus commits a momentous double hubris: in the Self-portrait he places his own face, cleareyed and bearded, in place of Christ’s; and he competes with the perfection of divine fabrication by scrupulously concealing the trace of his own hand in the paint surface.
Indeterminacy of meaning was encoded at the level of the pictorial sign. Roland Barthes, in a suggestive discussion of semantic bruit or noise, once characterized all art as ‘clean’, that is, free of Giorgione, The Tempest, c. , oil on canvas, × . Galleria dell’Accademia, Venice. But then Barthes conceded that painting, unlike writing, could introduce artificial interference, as it were, as a code for indeterminacy. He was evidently thinking of painterly techniques such as the deliberate dissolution of outlines, smoky or fading boundaries between colour areas, or atmospheric perspective.
Style – the heteroclite and unrepeatable mark – fixes the beholder’s attention. The deictic trace implores the beholder to stay within the frame, to resist turning elsewhere for a narrative or a context that will justify the picture. This is essentially what Altdorfer was doing in his own time: authenticating the image with a rhetoric of personality that was only legible within the image. With his style he began to shift the project of self-presentation away from a sheer display of technical prowess towards a more complex manifestation of interpretative nuances: the capacity to make fictions, the assumption of a distinctive authorial tone.