Sunday, January 7, 2007

Treasure Island and Albrecht Durer

What may you ask do Treasure Island and Albrecht Durer have in common? Well, not a whole heck of a lot, but I had encounters with both of these on the same day that brought me crashing back to the mid to late seventies and made me remember just what I loved about literature and the arts, although I didn't really know it back then.

During the holidays I started to reread Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island complete with Illustrations by N.C. Wyeth and I had forgotten the feelings that the book impressed upon me as a wee lad. I remembered thinking that all of these pirates were actually roaming around the seas and I felt fear that I may just run into them someday and didn't want to. My imagination was kicking into high gear about this time. Long John Silver (as cliche'd as he has become over the years) made me realize that there were people, real people that were just as manipulative and sneaky. And there were the obvious connections with Jim Hawkins, too.

I think that as adventurous as I think I am, I lost touch with just what adventure meant to me back then and the excitement and hope that I had when reading that book.

On the very same day, Tina and I went to the Detroit Institute of Arts to check out the Annie Liebovitz photography exhibit, which I was a bit disappointed in because no work was shown before 1999, and I for one would have liked to see the photos from her Rolling Stone days, both with the mag and the band. Oh well. But there was a very good exhibit on engravings and printmaking showcasing Picasso, Rembrandt and Durer. Durer's were the best by far for me and brought me back to about the same time as my first encounter with Treasure Island.

It was about this time that I encountered Durer's drawings and engravings and I think that this was one of my first exposures to any of the old masters, even though I didn't know who Albrecht was at the time. It was the image above that really got me with that stylized, yet proportionate horse in all of it's detail. It was an awakening to see just what could be done with line, the depth, the form, the atmosphere. This wasn't Spider-Man comics.

It was nice (and necessary) for me to get back in touch with what I thought I had lost.


anteau said...

durer is excellent and his depiction of contemporary artifacts is very accurate aside, my faovorites are st george on horseback and the four horseman of the apocaslypse

Julien alday said...

If you love the good ol' Albrecht Dürer, I'm pretty sure you will fall in love for Piranesi [but maybe it's allready the case ?]. Even if this italian genius was more working on the architectural side, I think some his art should intriguate you. ;)

Funny you were talking about the tresure island, one of the books I have enjoy so much when I was a kid. I was thinking about reading it again. By the way, a movie adaptation is planed in France... We can see commercials everywhere in theatres, nowadays. Meanwhile, I feel pretty scared about it: the casting is superb, but I wonder if they will be able to fit to the book spirit ! Wait and see. Cheers, Bruce !

Bruce said...

Rob: Great to see you here, buddy and yes, I think that those are among my favorite Durer engravings, too.

Julien: I am a bit familiar with Piranesi ( I remember fondly his drawing of St. Peter's basilica and piazza). He is a bit more architectural, but his line work is amazing.

I'd love to see that version of Treasure Island and I hope that it's good for your sake! You'll have to keep me updated.

unkle chuck said...

As kids growing up we often relate the literature we read to the feelings they leave with us. For me it was Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Mark Twain showed me a sense of adventure in Finn and as much as I wanted to emulate him I fell way short. So it turns out Tom Sawyer was my unwitting hero. Slick, crafty, and in his own way, an adventurer. Long live the heroes of our youth.

Of course, this comes from a man who enjoys the work of Gahan Wilson, the music (?) of Weird Al, and the cooking of White Castle. You figure it out.

Bruce said...

Uncle Chuck: I agree and it was interesting to read about how Tom Sawyer affected you. One day I'll have to send you a copy of the short story that i wrote years back (the titled of this blog came from that very tale); it has a little bit of Tom Sawyer in it.