A "Great" Piece of Art

Here's an image of a piece that I made several years ago called The Great American Landscape. When I made it I was thinking about the land where I lived and about Albrecht Durer's Great Piece of Turf. His Great Piece of Turf is a remarkable landscape from the Renaissance. It's remarkable because a true master of the German Renaissance who painted altarpieces and changed engraving forever made a small painting of some grass and some dandelions and called it "great."

The Great American Landscape, 2013. 8" x 10". Acrylic, color pencil, ink, Polaroid, and tracing paper on paper.

I imagine that Durer's Great Piece of Turf receives more attention and speculation than he would have thought it deserved. The Great Piece of Turf draws people in a way that his heftier work cannot. Often I feel like my work needs to be large and epic in order to mean something; if I make work that is small and insulated, then that's all it will ever be. Today, though, when I came across The Great American Landscape I realized that it captures a big feeling I have about smallness and what's coming just over that hill, which is remarkably relevant at the start of the new year and our new political climate.

Albrecht Durer, Great Piece of Turf, 1503. 16" x  12 3/8". Watercolor and gouache mounted on cardboard. Image taken from The National Gallery of Art.


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