By Christopher S. Wood
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Extra info for Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape: Revised and Expanded Second Edition
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. Much innovation in the history of art involves excavating subjects and ideas from hidden or marginal places and throwing them out onto a public surface, a prestigious surface. The mechanics of the relocation of the landscape – the promotion of the landscape from the margin to the centre – will be the subject of chapter Two. This promotion was accomplished first by assigning the landscape a name, and thus an invisible and virtual frame, and then by sealing it off from texts and other pictures with a physical frame.
With his style he began to shift the project of self-presentation away from a sheer display of technical prowess towards a more complex manifestation of interpretative nuances: the capacity to make fictions, the assumption of a distinctive authorial tone. The act traced by style became an act of judgement as much as a physical stroke. But style still pointed back to a moment of execution, and the pointer has stuck to the work. Altdorfer’s most aggressively stylish pictures, including the independent landscapes, have also proved unusually intractable to historical explanation.
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.