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Additional resources for Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape: Revised and Expanded Second Edition
Eberle’s own piety for nature remains intact. He accepts the reality of the original pre-modern oneness with nature, and thus laments the alienation that drove the painter to paint a landscape. To dispel these various nostalgias for nature, one must preserve the critical insight that pictures themselves actually generate ideas about nature, and at the same time refrain from dismissing that ‘secondary’ image of nature as the phantasm of the aesthetic ideology. There is no use searching for nature either among the relics of a pristine and more authentic art, or in sensual and empirical life.
All such portraits shared in the prestige of the acheiropoeton, or the image made ‘without hands’, without the unreliable intervention of a human artist. Dürer thus commits a momentous double hubris: in the Self-portrait he places his own face, cleareyed and bearded, in place of Christ’s; and he competes with the perfection of divine fabrication by scrupulously concealing the trace of his own hand in the paint surface. Paint in this picture is a perfect match for the textures of hair, skin and fur; there is no visible remainder that can be attributed to ‘style’.
Giorgione, he complained, had thought only of fashioning fanciful figures and displaying his art. Vasari found the frescoes unreadable. ’ But plenty of amateurs relished indeterminacy. Meaning of this sort emerges out of a deliberate detachment from subject-matter. Crucial to Giorgione’s rhetoric of enigma was the overdevelopment of outdoor setting. Not only bits of narrative, but also allegories were often embedded in outdoor greenery. In Lorenzo Lotto’s Allegory or in his Maiden’s Dream, or in Piero di Cosimo’s Allegory in Washington, or in the grisaille verso of the portrait diptych of Alvise Contarini in New York, with its shadowy, draped, river-bank figure, landscape amputates and frustrates ordinary trains of thought, dialectical links, and temporal vectors.