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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hendrick Goltzius

I get the feeling while scrolling through images of the work of Hendrick Goltzius that he's some kind of a lost brother (a vastly more accomplished one) from a different age.  I hope he'd feel the same way.  There is a language there that is spoken through movements of bone and muscle that speaks volumes to me.

Look at that cat looking out at us, relieved against Adam's pelvis.  Such wisdom in that face and what an angle of entry!

The horrible anatomy here makes it all the more tragic.  I love this to pieces.

The first awkward family photo.

A dutch painter of the 17th century his figures feel like an amalgam of the strange German stylization of Albrecht Durer and Lucas Cranach with oh-so-fleshy, oyster shell skin tones of Peter Paul Rubens.  There is also a sense of drama in these that reminds me of compositions from Guido Reni.  Goltzius seems positively obsessed with achieving unusual if not virtually impossible vantage points on the figure, and revels in the tactility of human skin.  As if this weren't enough he was possibly the greatest painter of hideous beasts and monsters, and painted them with equal love and terror.  God bless him. 

He avoids painting clothing at all costs and pushes distortions in the form often to absurd extremes.  I would normally count this as a weakness because the usual result would be a slowing or convoluting of movement.  Somehow the way these figures twist grotesquely into knotty bulges is delightful, engaging,  and deeply human.

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