Following the Early Modern Engraver
March 3, 2011 6:31 AM   Subscribe

The Brilliant Line explores the techniques of Renaissance and Baroque engravers. This interactive exhibit shows how layers of lines become art. (Flash.)

Engravings are objects of exquisite beauty and incomparable intricacy whose visual language is composed entirely of lines. From 1480 to 1650 Renaissance and Baroque (Early Modern) engravers made dramatic and rapid visual changes to the technique of engraving as they responded to the demands of reproducing artworks. The Brilliant Line follows these visual transformations and offers new insight into the special inventiveness and technical virtuosity of Early Modern engravers.

Andrew Raftery, an accomplished engraver and Associate Professor of Printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design, analyzed how Early Modern engravers worked within established line systems and also diverged from them. The site demonstrates Raftery's analysis and invites you to explore how 16th and 17th century engravers used carefully ordered systems of marks to create their images.
posted by zamboni (8 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
This is fantastic.
posted by clorox at 6:40 AM on March 3, 2011

*drops coffee*
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:43 AM on March 3, 2011

It's really amazing to see something you know intellectually must have happened, and then to actually see it happen before your eyes.
posted by The Whelk at 6:45 AM on March 3, 2011

MC Escher seems even more badass to me now.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:34 AM on March 3, 2011

This is a really nice marriage of museum and web app. It utilizes the strengths of both to produce something greater. Online interactivity leveraged as a means of visualizing and deconstructing the domain expertise you find in a good museum exhibit. Very nicely done.
posted by Babblesort at 7:47 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Really fun interface but I'm not buying the regimented steps put forward in the anaylse section, it just doesn't make much sense. Durer left behind an unfinished proof of his Adam and Eve engraving, which illustrates the way he worked.
posted by fire&wings at 8:57 AM on March 3, 2011

I'm not sure the Durer print shows what you think it shows. Why couldn't an artist do that layering on one section or figure at a time?. In fact, I doubt the whole plate was etched layer by layer. I think the point is that etching was a process then that used particular techniques to provide depth and texture, to mimic life. And you can watch these techniques getting shared and expanded upon. First they show how they travelled geographically. Then they show the specifics of the techniques, by breaking down the layers, and with that you can see how the centers of printing each took these techniques and riffed on 'em.

This is brilliant. This is a two semester, 400 level course in ten minutes. Just, wow. I can't believe I've never seen this before. This made my day.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:40 PM on March 3, 2011

It occurs to me that what Durer first hit on, but becomes obvious by the time you get to Muller, is that moiré patterns can be exploited to trick the eye into perceiving depth on a flat surface. This is the "how" of how they did that.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:20 PM on March 3, 2011

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