New! Dürer's pillow studies reimagined
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Greetings, collectors! Today our Vintage and Contemporary collections collide with a reimagined, handmade letterpress of a legendary historical gem. Behold! A vision of restful resplendence in our recreation of the precise and playful pillow studies of renowned 15th century German artist and printmaker Albrecht Dürer.
Originally created by Dürer in 1493, this series of pen and ink sketches showcases the artist’s calligraphic meticulousness and expressive linework. An exploration of light and texture, Dürer’s twists, folds, and contours examine the infinite compositions of an everyday object. Dürer employs loose but carefully placed combinations of curves and crosshatching with a range of line weights to achieve palpable structures with masterful economy.
We teamed up with printing pro Daniel Gardiner Morris from The Arm Letterpress in Brooklyn to reproduce Dürer’s original sketch in a richly textured handmade 10”x8” letterpress. And also isolated four of the individual pillows in the form of small 5”x5” letterpress prints, each with their own unique imprint and form. Using a deep sepia brown ink on creamy warm paper, these exquisitely tactile prints are a modern spin on Dürer’s own early methods.
Born in Nuremberg in 1471, Dürer rose to prominence as a painter and printmaker in his twenties, in large part due to his exquisite and prolific engravings. Son of a goldsmith and godson to one of the most prosperous printer-publishers of the time, Dürer was born with a penchant for print. Heavily influenced by classical motifs and relationships with Italian Renaissance artists including Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer developed a style marked by mathematical principles, perspective, and ideal proportions.
Dürer worked in the Golden Age of Engraving (1470-1530) when the concept of printmaking evolved from being purely a means for mass production to something that could also be an art form. To create these intricate images, Dürer would prepare dozens of preparatory sketches and drawings, then engrave the image onto a copper plate with a chisel-like tool called a burin. This was highly skilled metalwork, which explains why many master engravers had goldsmithing backgrounds similar to Dürer himself. To produce a print from the finished engraving, the plate would be inked and wiped, then covered with damp paper and run through a press.
Hundreds of years later, this style of printmaking is still very much in use, albeit with a few modern conveniences. To produce our version of Dürer’s Six Studies of Pillows, Morris created a digital vector of Dürer’s original image, output the negative image to film, and exposed a photopolymer plate. This plate can then be washed out to create the relief artwork from which a print can be made. He then inks the plate and creates letterpress prints using a hand-fed 1960s Vandercook press.
Process shots at The Arm Letterpress in Brooklyn
Much like Dürer, printing runs in Morris’s genes. He comes from a family of letterpress printers going back four generations. Morris currently runs The Arm in Brooklyn, a letterpress print shop focused on printing posters and art editions using wood type, hand carved blocks and modern platemaking.
We’re thrilled to collaborate with Morris in celebration of the rich history of letterpress and printmaking traditions. So whether you’re a side snoozer, face-down dozer, or crumpled up catnapper, we’re sure there’s a pillow that speaks to you. Or snag a set of all four to hang together for the ultimate sleep styling.