Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Albrecht Durer

Ah Durer.

Albrecht Durer.

As a printmaker, his name just says it all. One of the true rock stars of art history, of all time, someone who should be nominated to the Great Artist Hall of Fame. One artist that I am truly and literally capable of throwing my panties at out of admiration. Though currently on view at New York’s Museum of Biblical Art, I felt that would be somewhat inappropriate.

On view at MoBia until September 21, 2008, I jumped at the opportunity to kowtow before 150 or so of some of the greatest contributions to the graphic medium. I'm not sure what insight I can provide for such an artist that has not been said before. The show itself is relatively poorly lit, probably to protect these works on paper. I wish that the exhibition text had clarified if what was on view were originals or restrikes. For a show that focuses on Durer's religious imagery, I was surprised at how much information the exhibition text provided on Durer's financial savvy. It was through his prints that he became well known, creating for his time an accessible, reproducible art with explanatory text in the vernacular language of craftsmen rather than Latin.

During his lifetime, Durer left his good ol'hometown of Nuremberg to travel twice to Italy and once to the Netherlands. His work is now considered by critics to reflect these influences, a form of cultural blending that stands across time as a Renaissance powerhouse, influencing some of the big names like Raphael and Titian. Through crossing boundaries to unfamiliar territory, Durer learned how exposure to new ideas and new understanding can find illuminate reflections of your own cultural identity.

I left MoBia visually drunk and wheeling on an excess of fine line and apocalyptic visions. However, I can't wondering, what if the United Nations stocked artists, and whenever there was a conflict, artists from both sides were sent across borders to learn about the culture of their enemy. There would be misunderstandings at the onset, sure, but perhaps such exchanges could lead to clarity. And when the artists return, their work is displayed, revealing the influences of the other. A new form of diplomacy -- it might be worth a try.

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