in Process, Research

Reflection: Week 9

What drew my attention from the previous lecture was Rhinoceros (1515) by Albrecht Dürer. The intricacy behind this the woodcut print was astounding. The term “Math letter forms” used in class also caught my attention. 

Apparently, when the artist was creating this piece, he has never seen a Rhinoceros before because it was rare to spot one in Europe then. He took inspiration from a sketch done in 1514

and also had to piece together various reports to create the creature. Perhaps it was his own flare or even lost in translation, he covered the creature’s legs with scales and the body with hard, patterned plates.

Focusing on the inscription, it is in German and it accounts of when King of Portugal, Manuel of Lisbon, brought such a living animal from India, called the rhinoceros to Europe in 1513 AD May. It also mentions of the rhinoceros being more superior to an elephant.

I believe that the typeface ‘Albert Dürer Blackletter’ created in 1500 was used in this piece.

Dürer applies a grid system into typography. His typographic grid proportions were 8 squares high, based on the human proportion of 8 heads high. The technically behind this could be attributed to his study on the aesthetic anatomy of human proportion. He believed that various mathematical figure (e.g straight lines, curves, circle) could be made beautiful by proportion.

According to Dürer,

… since architects, painters and others … are wont to set an inscription on lofty walls, it will make for the merit of the work that they form the letters correctly.”

In conclusion, Albert Dürer almost seem to embody the T-shaped person we are striving to learn in this course. He was a German painter, graphic artist, author, publisher, and mathematician but what really stood out was how he weaved and incorporated various skills together to seek “perfection”, in this context, his typography.