Albertina's Albrecht Dürer Blockbuster is Finally Opening

September 21, 2019

The Renaissance was a definite cultural, social and political turning point in Western Europe, occurring initially in Italy and then spreading to other countries. The resurgence of the Antique thought and the shift in the perception of what it means to be human outside the strictly sacral context enabled the development of entirely new approaches in painting and sculpture, and the appearance of new media such as printmaking.

The German artist who embodied the Renaissance principles from the perspective of the Protestant Reformation (inaugurated by Martin Luther in the early 1500s) was no other than the genuine master Albrecht Dürer. Immense craftsmanship, technical innovation (ideal proportions, perspective, and use of the printmaking), and pioneering role in promoting new genres such as landscape, make him one of the most important artists in the entire art history.

To revisit his exquisite domains, The Albertina decided to launch a grand Dürer retrospective consisting primarily from the works held in the museum’s collections as well as important loans from other leading institutions.

Left Albrecht Dürer - Left Wing of a Blue Roller Right Albrecht Dürer - Young Hare
Left: Albrecht Dürer - Left Wing of a Blue Roller, c. 1500. Watercolour, body colour, heightened with opaque white © The Albertina Museum, Vienna / Right: Albrecht Dürer - Young Hare, 1502. Watercolour, body colour, heightened with opaque white © The Albertina Museum, Vienna

Dürer’s Works in Albertina Collection Vienna

Namely, the Albertina holds almost one hundred and forty works majority of them forming the world’s most important collection of Albrecht Dürer’s drawings. Alongside this selection, the installment includes the artist’s drawings, prints, and paintings achievements, to offer a refreshed insight in his practice as well as the latest findings.

The fascinating fact is that the first Dürer holdings belonging to The Albertina were commissioned around 1528; the drawings feature family portraits, animal and plant studies as well as other studies of bodily parts, and clothing, etc., and they reflect Dürer’s highly personal conception of drawing.

Furthermore, these drawings show an incredible innovation since they differ much from other works on paper made during the 15th century compositional, technical, and virtuous terms. These pioneering drawings practically paved the way to the autonomy of this medium in the Western context.

Left Albrecht Dürer - Praying Hands Albrecht Dürer - Nude Self-Portrait
Left: Albrecht Dürer - Praying Hands, 1508. Brush and black and gray ink, gray wash, heightened with white on blue prepared paper © The Albertina Museum, Vienna / Right: Albrecht Dürer - Nude Self-Portrait, c. 1499. Weimar, Klassik Stiftung © Klassik Stiftung Weimar

The Loans

The Vienna exhibition also includes the artist’s self-portrait from Weimar, The Adoration of the Magi from the Uffizi, Christ among the Doctors from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, and Dürer’s male portrait from the Museo del Prado.

A selection of the late paintings made during the artist’s final journey to the Netherlands with all of the following studies are displayed as well.

Left Albrecht Dürer - Adoration of the Magi Right Albrecht Dürer - The Virgin with a Multitude of Animals
Left: Albrecht Dürer - Adoration of the Magi, 1504. Oil on wood. Florence, Gallerie degli Uffizi © Gabinetto Fotografico delle Gallerie degli Uffizi / Right: Albrecht Dürer - The Virgin with a Multitude of Animals, c. 1503. Pen and blackish-brown ink, watercolor © The Albertina Museum, Vienna

Albrecht Dürer at Albertina

It seems that the current retrospective tends to accentuate every aspect of Dürer’s impeccable oeuvre by showing how well he combined the craftsmanship in technical advancements along with intellectual depth. His devotion to art and science made him a genuine example of the Renaissance man, the one who absorbs the zeitgeist and transmits it through the arts.

Albrecht Dürer will be on view at Albertina Museum in Vienna until 6 January 2020.

Featured image: Albrecht Dürer - Bacchanal with Silenus (after Andrea Mantegna), 1494. Pen and brown ink. © The Albertina Museum, Vienna.

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