Visions of Apocalyptic Change - Dürer and Sage

These two artworks appear to be radically different from one another. One is a 15th-century woodcut print depicting a tumult of people. The other is a 20th-century oil painting devoid of human figures. In this exercise, we'll explore the similarities between the works, visually and thematically.


Look closely at the two images. What visual similarities can you find?


In order to consider the thematic similarities between these two works, we need first to attend to their great differences.

We will focus on each work individually for a few minutes. With each of them we will first describe the work (what we see and how we see it). Then will we talk about the meanings and the feelings that the image conjures.

1) Describe - what do you see? beyond what's depicted, how would you describe how things are represented in the image? Consider things like shape, line, color, texture, space, balance, proportion, harmony, and rhythm.

2) Interpret - What does the image get you thinking about? How does it make you feel? (There are not correct answers for this question. If it makes you think about something or gets you feeling a certain way, that's an important part of the meaning that we want to get at).


Each of this works can be seen as a commentary on the prevailing socio-political and cultural order in the times that they were created. 

3) What is the order that Dürer is responding to? What do we see in the work that tells us that?

4)  What is the order that Sage is responding to? What do we see in the work that tells us that?


5) How are these works similar thematically? How do their themes related to the topic of your class?

6) How can we relate the few but important visual similarities of these two works to their similar themes?


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Last Updated

September 14, 2020 4:27 p.m.


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