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5.9.03

Representational Art

If atonal compositional techniques are becoming just another option for composers today (see post on September 1), on equal footing with more traditional techniques, then perhaps illusionistic art and drawing are also de retour. If so, where are today's great draftsmen? Much has been made in the art world of late about the drawing ability of Leonardo, which I certainly do not dispute. Still, for my money, I am awed most by the work of Albrecht Dürer, which is why I have followed the lead of an article (Aus der Natur gerissene Kunst by Ulrich Weinzierl, September 6) in Die Welt to the new exhibit of the works of Dürer at the Albertina in Vienna (September 5 to November 30).

Albrecht Dürer, Feldhase, 1502Albrecht Dürer, Large Turf, 1503

They are showing the original version of the famous watercolor Feldhase (The Hare, 1502, left image). My favorite, which is also owned by the Albertina so I hope it will be in the exhibit, is the Great Piece of Turf (watercolor, 1503, right image). Naturalists sometimes credit this work as an early example of a type of descriptive field manual illustration. The spirit of the work seems not so scientific to me, or stemming from a desire to classify. The clump of grass reminds me most of the piece of nature that a child brings to an adult, a leaf, a caterpillar, whatever. It's not much, you may have stepped on it as you rushed by, but when you take the time to look at it close up, you see something else.

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