Albrecht Durer and the Renaissance Print

Materials and processes

The process of printmaking has long been a process used in Art. The North Renaissance artist, Albrecht Durer was known for producing many prints. Albrecht  Durer  produced many Relief prints and Intaglios. From those two techniques Durer was able to master techniques such as: woodcut, wood engraving, etching, and engraving. Printmaking is divided into four types: Relief prints, Intaglio, Plano- graph prints (lithographs), and stencil prints (silk screens). The prints are classified according to the surface that they are being printed on. The most famous relief prints are woodcuts. A Woodcut is basically done by the cutting off the areas that are not intended to be printed ( the white parts of the image) using a knife, on the surface of a piece of wood. The part that is meant to be printed will remain on the surface and therefore show up on the print. Another type of relief print is a linocut which follows the same process used in woodcut, but instead of the cutting on a surface of wood, the cutting is done on a surface of linoleum. Wood engravings are also classified under relief prints. Wood engraving is the process of engraving on a hard piece of wood. This process enables the printmaker to produce finer lines than he or she would be able to if he or she was to use the woodcut technique. The second type of printmaking is called Intaglio. Intaglio is the process in which different techniques, including: engraving, etching, and dry point, are used to make a carved out area in a metal plate where the ink will descend. The surface of the metal plate remains clean, and then the paper is put, under the roller press, into the areas where the paint is. Engraving is done by engraving the image, intended to be printed, on the metal plate with a burin. Etching is the process of covering the metal plate with a coat of a material named ground which is then carved with a needle to make the lines that make up the picture. Then, the plate is put in acid which eats away the carved places and causes ink to sink in them. The third process of Intaglio printmaking is called dry point. Dry point is the technique that uses hard tools to carve out the lines in which the ink will go. The third technique of printmaking is the Plano- graphic technique which produces lithographs. Lithographs are produced by drawing the image on the stone using a greasy crayon. Then the stone is wetted and inked. The ink will only stick to the areas where the greasy crayon has been used. Then the paper is put against the stone and the ink transfers into it, creating the image intended by the printmaker. The Last process used in printmaking is the process that became popular in the 20th Century and is called silk screening. Silk screening uses fabrics such as silk and linen to transfer ink onto paper. The areas that are not intended to be printed are covered with a material that blocks paint from going through it. The paper is put underneath the silk screen and ink is put on the it  letting the ink go through the areas which were not covered by some kind of blocker. The last two prints that were mentioned, Plano- graphs and silk screens, are more modern than the first two. The first two were used widely during the renaissance while the last two were used by 20th Century artists.

Analysis: Melencolia I

Made in 1514 and titled Melencolia I, the ingraving became one of the most famous of Albrecht Durer�s prints. Although Albrecht Durer produced many prints throughout his life, his Melencolia I became one of his most famous prints. The engraving became a representative of modern  thinking, and has been reserached and studied by many people before. The title of the engraving is written on it on the top, left-hand side. The print shows a fugure sitting, in the edge of the image, in a room surrounded with many different scientific, and mathematical tools. Sitting on a wheel next to the figure is a baby angel. Some of the mathematical tools that in the print include a compass, a scale, magic square, an hourglass, a geometric solid. The magic square says has the date that the print was produced, 1514. When the numbers on the magic square are added, from any row (horizontally, virtically, or diagonally) the result is always the number 34. There were many interpretations on the meaning behind the scene in the engraving. The most famous interpretation is that the figure in the image is trying to invent something genius. Because the figure is unable to invent something, he sits hopeless and depressed, creating the melancholic mood of the picture from which its name is derived.


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