WHAT: “Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1400-1700”
WHEN: Through September 3
WHERE: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, New York
WHY THIS SHOW MATTERS: Albrecht Dürer is regarded as one of the great print masters in history, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current exhibition “Dürer and Beyond” finally places him alongside a class of equally talented and worthy contemporaries. The show, compiled from the museum’s permanent collection and works on loan from the Morgan Library, seeks not to knock Dürer off his pedestal, but to prove that he was one of a number of Central European artists between the 16th and 18th centuries whose mastery in drawing, painting, and printmaking makes it a golden age.
The work of other masters, like Hans Holbein the Elder, and a few lesser-known artists, appear besides Dürer’s own artworks, carefully curated so that while walking through the exhibition, at times, the works of individuals become indistinguishable amid a wealth of commonly shared styles and techniques. The seamless flow serves two purposes: The first establishes Dürer as part of several generations of artists who were trained in schools of thought that emphasized the precision of the artist’s hand. The later is that Dürer invariably influenced others who learned from his mastery.
Works by Jacob Matthias Weyer, Joachim von Sandrart, and Conrad Meyer demonstrate the ability of such artists to render light and shadow realistically on human form, with dark washes highlighted in brilliant white. The influence of Durer’s contemporaries on his own work is evident most in the work of Martin Schogauer’s (whom he admired during his lifetime), whose tight and expressive “Man in a Hat Gazing Upward” (before 1480) shows the technique of delicate cross-hatching that is also dominant in Durer’s more loose and stylized “Self-portrait and Studies of the Artist’s Hand and a Pillow” (1493) — the centerpiece of the exhibition.
“Dürer and Beyond” provides the first comprehensive survey of the Met’s collection of drawings from German, Swiss, Austrian, and early Bohemia, and gives viewers a look at the artistic trends and hidden superstars of the time — one that history books like Janson’s might not offer. [EVENT LISTING]
To see works from the exhibtion click the slide show.