A short post highlighting the beauty of meticulousness, of precision and detail. Lots of images, very little text.
First, where the idea for this post came from: one of my favorite blogs, Vinyl Connection (down under in Melbourne, Australia), recently published a series of posts on albums whose covers featured art depicting the musicians heard on the records. One LP included in one of the posts was Jethro Tull’s 1969 release, Stand Up. Its cover: this woodcut by artist (and Connecticut resident) James Grashow.
Grashow’s work covers the inside of the gatefold sleeve as well, and includes a popup of the band.
As I looked at these images in VC’s post, the works of Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) flitted across my mind. Here’s the exchange I had with VC in the comments:
Me: “[Of the albums shown] I have to say the Tull is my favorite: I love the intricacies of the woodcut, particularly on the inside of the gatefold.”
VC: Mine too. A little nod to Albrecht Dürer, don’t you think?
Me: Yes!! Can’t believe you said that!…I almost said that very thing. Great minds…
VC responded with one of my favorites emojis:
Nerd’s delight indeed.
So I spent some more time thinking about Herr Dürer, trying to decide what it is about his work that has always appealed to me. And I kept coming back to that intricacy, and to all of his exquisite detail. Here’s one of his better known woodcuts, from 1515:
It’s generally believed that Dürer never saw the animal in the flesh, but rather based his depiction on written descriptions he’d read. When one considers the kinds of tools that were available for cutting wood in 1515, the level of detail is really astonishing.
Many, if not most, of his woodcuts depict religious themes. Here’s one:
Again, this is a woodcut! Imagine the skill required to carve that design into a piece of hard fruitwood with knives and chisels.
Dürer’s oeuvre also includes copper plate engravings, of which this is a favorite.
Even his watercolors are miraculous. You can practically run your fingers through the fur of this young hare (who resides in the Albertina Museum, in Vienna)…
…or feel the texture of this blue roller’s feathers also at the Albertina.
Dürer himself said, “What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.”
Indeed it does.
This post from five years ago reveals that I’m consistent in my artistic likes, as evidenced by this line: “the detail is almost inexplicably pleasing to me”…
The image at the top of the post is a detail from a 1498 self portrait (oil on panel; Prado, Madrid).