Podcast #6 Master- Albrecht Durer, Modern- C.M. Coolidge

This is a fun week about pets, animals and art!  The great master artist, Albrecht Durer, was primarily an engraver and printmaker, he was also a painter and “theorist”.  During his lifetime (1471 – 1528) he created some of the most recognizable animal prints that people are familiar with today.  He is also said to be one of the first European landscape artists.

Young Hare I

Young Hare I

Teresa and Suzanne talk about two important pieces, Young Hare I (1502), and Rhinoserus (1515) (his spelling). Both are fantastic works of art, one for it’s amazing attention to detail and shading, the other because of it’s remarkable likeness to an actual rhinoceros, though the artist had never seen one in real life.  It takes a draughtsman with strong skills and vivid imagination to create an engraving that has such believability.

“I just want to reach in and pick up the hare” says Suzanne as they talk about Durer’s work.

“It’s true, his work is so detailed and exacting, it has very strong sense of being” Teresa points out.

The rhinoceros is another story completely- the image was based on a written description and brief sketch by an unknown artist of an Indian rhinoceros that had arrived in Lisbon earlier in 1515. Dürer never saw the actual rhinoceros, which was the first living example seen in Europe since Roman times. In late 1515, the King of Portugal, Manuel I, sent the animal as a gift for Pope Leo X, but it died in a shipwreck off the coast of Italy in early 1516.

Rhinoceros, Durer 1515

Rhinoceros, Durer 1515

Dürer’s woodcut is not an entirely accurate representation of a rhinoceros. He depicts an animal with hard plates that cover its body like sheets of armor. Despite its anatomical inaccuracies, Dürer’s woodcut became very popular in Europe and was copied many times in the following three centuries.  Some art historians have said of Dürer’s woodcut: “probably no animal picture has exerted such a profound influence on the arts”.

After the break they talk about a painting that has been found in basements, bars, pool halls and even public bathrooms for about 100 years, a painting done by self-taught commercial artist and painter, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, better known as C.M. or even Cash.  That painting… (drum roll)….

Dogs Playing Poker, Coolidge.

Dogs Playing Poker, Coolidge.

Dogs Playing Poker!  This iconic painting brings together a group of dogs who all have their own personalities while playing cards at a table.  A true work of Americana and Folk, you can’t take your eyes off of it while you visit each character and imagine you’ve seen them before (if you’ve ever played poker).

Coolidge, almost the complete opposite of our Master, Durer, has a sense of humor and an eye for detail, at least as far as a card game is concerned.  Just as Durer’s rhino and hare spent many years as great artistic reference, so does Coolidge’s Dogs, for parody in illustration.

During his career, Coolidge made a series of paintings for his animals, mostly dogs depicting daily life in an anthropomorphic manner.  Shooting dice, playing poker, playing pool.  They were used for advertisments and as anyone would tell you today, if he was a working commercial artist, he was a success!

The reason for such diverse artistic personalities is mostly because The Art Garage is hosting an art show for the month of June called “Peticular Poses” which features a wide range of paintings and photos of animals and pets.  The artist reception is Friday, June 7th from 6-9pm while the show will be up until the end of June.

See you next week!