Years ago, the museum at the Rhode Island School of Design was generous enough to take us through a few of their works on paper—which are normally kept safely away from damaging light and, as a result, remain often unseen by the public. A collection of roughly 3 dozen pieces were displayed along the perimeter of an otherwise bland conference room. The first piece was a magnificent and massive butterfly mandala by Damien Hirst that was vibrantly colored and hauntingly morbid. But it was the second piece, a small monotoned engraving, that stole our hearts. Absolutely minuscule line work shaped a robust figure, winding city scape, glorious wings and a tangled billow of cloth, all rendered with remarkable and subtle depth. The piece was Nemesis (The Great Fortune) by Albrecht Dürer and immediately upon seeing it we were spell-bound.
Given the impression Nemesis had on us, you may not be surprised to learn that we at ARCANISA adore the work of Dürer and you can imagine our excitement when we discovered the "Albrecht Dürer Works of Art" series offered by Polish brand Aloha From Deer. As the pandemic has us often confined to our homes we, as a society, seem to have adopted sweatpants and sweatshirts as the unofficial uniform of 2020. With this in mind, and with the cold breath of winter approaching, we can think of no better holiday gift than cozy loungewear featuring the work of a truly iconic 15th century artist.
Five works by Dürer (The Whore of Babylon, The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Celestial Map of the Northern Sky, and The Rhinoceros) are printed onto a variety of deliciously comfortable clothing items. Dürer's exceptional line work translates to an almost abstracted graphic print on the garments as the dizzying details bend and warp with the drape of the fabric on the body. The garments are striking depictions of Dürer's works that become unique piece of art in their own right. We feel like art world insiders wearing any of the items from this collection!
We personally love the Fifth Seal series and admit to wearing the sweatpants far too often! Based on the biblical foreshadowing of the events of the apocalypse (quote below), the imagery is dark—but even this feels appropriate given the nature of this year. Created by Dürer in 1498, the illustration contains expressive anthropomorphized sun and moon icons sitting atop a bank of clouds while the earth below is rattled by earthquakes and showered with fallen stars.
“I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became gloomy like sackcloth, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, like a fig tree, shaken by a mighty wind, drops its immature figs, and the sky disappeared, rolled like a scroll, and every mountain and island moved from their places."
The sun and the moon act as anchor points of the print, offering identifiable imagery prominently situated on the shoulders or hips, depending on the article of clothing. The clouds offer a visual relief of blankness against the bottom of the design that becomes increasingly contorted by our bodies.
Should you (very reasonably) choose not to introduce imagery of the apocalypse into your holiday celebrations, the pieces featuring Rhinoceros and Celestial Sky are beautifully representative of Dürer's talented rendering and we commend Aloha From Deer on an outstanding job applying the prints in a thoughtfully aesthetic way. It's true fashion that any art or loungewear lover will appreciate this holiday!