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Pieter Bruegel: Drawing the World

Posted Feb. 18, 2019, 9:59 a.m. by T

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Pieter Bruegel: Drawing the World

Heralded as the Netherland’s draughtsman of the early seventeenth century, Pieter Bruegel’s flag is firmly planted in the pantheon of greats alongside Hieronymus Bosch and Albrecht Duerer, influences of which can be found resonating throughout Bruegel’s oeuvre.

The way Bruegel mused and drew on the societal conditions of the times he lived in is informed by his idiosyncratic inherent criticism that is based on deep reflection, an approach informed by morality and an astute sense for distinguishing the nuances of the follies of his countrymen and traditional archetypes, which are often depicted in an exaggerated and at times absurd manner.

Drawing the World documents Pieter Bruegel’s ability to seamlessly transition and give a voice to his own impressions into a painting – be it via his early landscape paintings as well as when he got more invested in the relationship between society and the individual which are often depicted in what has become his somewhat trademark allegorical style, a style that was often extended with how he worded the accompanying captions.

Hieronymus Bosch’s influence is omnipresent in Bruegel’s emissions, especially when it comes to fantasy hybrid creatures, symbolic animals and characters from the netherworld, to an extent where some of Bosch’s works are openly referenced and riffed on.

However, the main point of differentiation between Bosch and Bruegel is that with the latter, a comical dimension and crude humour was added to the mix for good measure. Bruegel thereby expertly navigated the chasm between enlightenment and entertainment and subtly questioned the dualism between the role of the artist and freedom of expression in the turbulent times he lived in.

Drawing the World is one beautiful homage in book form to an artist whose impact and humanistic aspiration was felt for centuries to come and one that left a legacy that still caries meaning to this day.

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