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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:37

Video transcript

I feel like I need to get down on my knees actually even lower than my knees I almost have to get down on my chest have my chin on the ground to really be able to look at this painting it seems precisely what ders viewpoint was I don't think I've ever seen so many different colors of green we're looking at a great piece of turf by Albert d'Or the great German Renaissance artist it's a watercolor it's not very large on paper in our day this may not seem so unusual when people take photographs of flowers of nature we're used to images like this but this was something really radical and new at the time to lavish this much attention on a very small piece of the natural world so what a great expression of Renaissance thinking that is that the world that we live in not the heavenly realm but our world even its most minut presents just an unparalleled display of beauty and here we have an almost scientific investigation of just a small piece of turf it's almost like a universe unto itself there's so much for our eye different kinds of leaves different kinds of blades of grass moving in different directions see that there are dandelions that have yet to unfurl it's a relatively shallow space he gives us what may be 24 inches in depth but nevertheless within that he does begin to organize for instance look at the broad leafed plants close to the bottom but they grow up in a beautiful diagonal theirs unfolds almost as if the plant is growing over time nature at a moment in a specific place that sense of specificity makes this almost like a kind of enormous lee complex botanical study what imagines a paintbrush that's just pencil thin for the painting of those individual blades of grass but it's also arbitrary as if he's just gotten down as I said on the ground and looked across and this is what was there in other words he could have found any area of a meadow who put himself down and looked at this well it's interesting because is it composed or isn't it it seems so uncomplete he sat in the meadow pulled out his paper and his watercolors and his drawing materials and started to work but in the Renaissance that's not what art is what artists do they compose they organize and so the question is is this composed is this invention so do you think this is composed I think it is I think there is an attempt to achieve a kind of authenticity and I think he's done it brilliantly he certainly chose what he was including and what he wasn't including and our eye is drawn from the bottom right for instance into the middle ground very slowly because there's so many weeds that we have just move through and around nevertheless there is also the sense of the arbitrary and the sense of the multiplicity and the sense of just the richness of form as you mentioned of all of those greens that's something that I think is very Northern Renaissance this interest in multiplicity in variation and the amount of time your eye can take to explore that variation so this was made just at the beginning of the 16th century and just think about what's happening at that moment Michelangelo was working on his David it'll be done in the next year the moment where we generally think of the value of the body here we have an artist almost a scientist who is observing the world even that which we step on that we disdain most often