Sunday, August 05, 2007

Art Blogging: Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) was a German Renaissance painter and engraver. He was born and raised in Nuremburg, the son of a prosperous goldsmith. A prodigy, he was already creating salable works of art by the age of 13. At the age of 15, he was apprenticed to Michael Wohlgemut and learned the craft of woodcut.

He traveled through the Netherlands, Alsace, and Switzerland before returning to Nuremburg. During this first phase of his artistic development, his style was firmly Gothic. But then Durer traveled to Italy for the first time in 1495. There, under the influence of Antonio Pollaiuolo and Andrea Mategna, he incorporated the human figure depiction and Classical subject matter emerging in High Renaissance Italy into his painting. This Italian influence is seen strongly in Christ Among the Doctors (1507, oil on panel, at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection in Lugano, Switz.)

His woodcuts and engravings, however, remained strongly Gothic in character and contributed to the rise of printmaking from a commercial to a fine art. Among his most famous prints is The Apocalypse (1498, woodcut, in a private collection), which displays rigorous emotion and fluidity in a usually static medium. Yet despite these German influences, Durer represented the Italian cascade that fell upon Germany in the late Fifteenth Century. Durer contributed to this trend by composing several textbooks on aesthetics and artistic geometry from the Italian perspective.

His fame peaked with his appointment to the court of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and later, Charles V. Among his works in service to the Emperor were iron etchings, such as The Agony in the Garden (1515, etching, at the Met). This powerful depiction of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane displays remarkable motion and volatility. The observer almost feels blasted by the divine wind from which the disciples are struggling against. Such was the genius of Durer, a master of devotional art coupled with the highest caliber of sheer technical skill and creativity.


rocksalive777 said...

Duerer's woodcuts have always been among my favorite. As much as I like Michelangelo, the best painters of the period were those involved with the Northern Renaissance.

John said...

I agree. I've never cared for the rigid formalism of the Italian Renaissance, with a few exceptions.

John said...

Boticelli, for one.

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