Seeing the most recent opening at The Art Gallery of Windsor, displaying approximately 55 woodcuts and etchings by Albrecht Durer, was an honour. Jhoan had tickets from work to attend the pre-opening event closed to the public. The opening was started with a discussion about the 15th Century, the time period that Durer did some of his work, and the time period in which he was inspired by the surroundings.
The Early Music Ensemble of Windsor performed Northern Renaissance tunes in the gallery before we actually saw the works. Using very strange looking instruments, a far cry from the indie musicians’ gear I am used to seeing and hearing, the Ensemble was extraordinary.
On to the artwork.
When I went to high school, I remember fondly the days we took Art history. I, you see, could not draw worth a snot. But I was fascinated with the works that were hammered into our memory by discussion, review, quizzes, and general appreciation (or bragging rights for remembering). One of the artists whose work was most memorable was Durer, whose woodcuts and etchings were phenomenal. In particular, Adam and Eve, an etching, was one of those pieces you see at the front of the room and think, “That thing must be in a gallery in Germany somewhere.” One never really thinks they’re going to see the thing at the end of their nose in a local gallery.
And there it hung, Adam and Eve. Right there. Beyond the surreal sense that I was so close to a wildy well-preserved classic work from the 1500s, it was unnerving to have something from my past being in my lap. It would be like meeting Cecil Fielder (ex Detroit Tiger) in person, after having collected his image on baseball cards as a tot.
Another time I had that feeling was when I was with Jhoan, at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. We were walking out of the gallery, having had our fill of an amazing collection, and I saw something familiar. It was a woodcut called The Prophet, by Emil Nolde. It was a piece, once again, I remembered clearly from Art History in Grade 11 with Mr. Roy James.
Other instances of great works appearing out of nowhere have been regular occurrances, and I have no plans to simply list them, but I will say that The Art Institute of Chicago had more single instances of this than anywhere else I’ve been. Seeing Grant Wood’s American Gothic in a room full of previously unknown works was bewildering. We just stood there, jaws agape, wondering how this painting was actually in front of us.
To finish this post, I want you to see a “version” of American Gothic that trumps the original, in my eyes.
My friends Dan and Jenna are getting married. Soon. They have impeccable taste, and an imaginative spirit that is contagious and inspiring. They have created an indelible image for their wedding invitation, and I love showing it to strangers. Every time I see this, I wish I were more creative.