Demons to Durer, Beasts to Bosch

Demons to Durer, Beasts to Bosch - From Beasts to Bosch,...

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From Beasts to Bosch, Demons to Durer: Gothic Symbolism in Northern Renaissance Art Exhibition Catalogue By: Jordan Anderson In Northern Renaissance art, a new-style of Christian imagery emerged using otherworldly, neo-gothic style creatures. In Medieval and Late Gothic art the use of animals, demons, beasts and hybrid-animals is common. As the Late Gothic style adapted Renaissance ideals from the south, the subtle symbolism of animals became less frequent and more realistic images coupled with darker complex themes emerged. Also during this time period, Northern Europe saw a unification of Gothic and Christian ideologies. The movement toward more complex symbolism is especially prevalent in apocalyptic images such as the Last Judgment. Demonic creatures pull the sinful into the depths of hell while the divine rise toward heaven, creating a hauntingly beautiful clash of good and evil. Bosch, Durer, Grunewald and other Northern Renaissance artists instilled these images of hybrid monsters, beasts and grotesque demons with complex symbolism, creating a new style of art. To understand this new style of monster imagery, one must also understand the psychology of Northern Europeans at this time period and their fascination with beasts, demons, hybrid-creatures and dream-like concepts. Their culture is very different from our own in terms of religious, spiritual and psychological mindsets. Knowledge of the natural world comes from past observations of the fantastic qualities of animals, stemming from paganism, Greek and Roman myths and Gothic tales. The world is an
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unpredictable place and natural processes are not free from divine intervention. Science and religion are intertwined allowing for belief in the supernatural to be present in scientific thinking and everyday life. 1 Understanding human consciousness during this time period allows for a more in-depth look at the use of monsters and hybrid-creatures. Christian religious scenes are the most common subjects during the Northern Renaissance period. To fully comprehend and appreciate an artwork it is important to try decipher why the artist has created such an image or concept and how does it related to the historical and psychological context of the time. 2 In the case of the Northern Renaissance, the psychological effects of millenarianism and belief in the supernatural held by many Northerners fueled artist’s creativity. Millenarianism is the belief in the coming apocalypse at the turn of a millennium or half-millennium, which is based on Christian scripture and popular belief. This is very different from the recent turn of the millennia and ‘Y2K scare’ our generation experienced, people truly believed the world
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course ARH 343 taught by Professor Harper during the Winter '08 term at Oregon.

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Demons to Durer, Beasts to Bosch - From Beasts to Bosch,...

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