Sunday, February 24, 2019

Albrecht Dürer Drawings- Albertina Museum

Albertina Museum 
20 September 2019 –6 January 2020

With its nearly 140 works, the Albertina Museum is home to the world’s most important collection of drawings by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528). And this exhibition, rounded out by valuable,rarely shown international loan works, focuses on Dürer’s drawn oeuvre—presenting it as an artistic achievement that is in every respect equal to his paintings and printed graphics.

The historical backgroundof the Albertina Museum’s Dürer holdings islikewise a matter ofconsiderable distinction:their provenance can be traced back to 1528 without any gaps, thus representing a group of works from the artist’s workshop that have been together for nearly 500 years. This collection prominently featuresfamily portraits and both animal and plant studies as well as the lion’s share ofDürer’s head, hand, and clothing studies on colored paper.These holdings thus offer a uniquely ideal starting point from which to reconstructhis personal conceptionof drawing done in a workshop setting, allowing one to also gain an understanding of his personal, early-humanist concept of art.

When one observes a work on paper such as the Praying Hands: Is this miracle of analytical observation and incomparably precise reproduction not far too ambitious for the purpose for which it is assumed to have been created—namely, to serve as a preliminary study?And to what purpose associated with typical workshop practices should one attribute a work like the famous Young Hare

While Dürer was not the first artist north of the Alps to produce such studies, his creations indeed do go far beyond the tradition of other such exemplary15th-century works on paper in terms of their consummate technical, compositional, and artistic quality, a quality that frequently even extends to his carefully placed monogram signature. 

These drawings, casual tours de force and display pieces of superlative quality, consciously probe the outer limits of that which is artistically and technically feasible. And Dürer, thus equipped with a collection of his own drawings, was in possession of an artistic treasury of sorts that enabled him to showall visitors to his workshop a concise and impressive demonstration of his God-given talentas consummate proof of his artistry. 

It was particularly in the medium of drawing the Dürer succeeded in hismost daring artistic feats, achievements that were as yet unthinkable in the painting and reproducible media of his day. 

As “master drawings”, Dürer’s works on paper stand at the dawn of drawing’s autonomy as an artform. And it was with this intent, though still within the protected sphere of the workshop, that he created these exquisitely precious works that would pave the way for the esteem that the medium of drawing was to be accorded in the future.

 Albrecht Dürer
Hare, 1502
Watercolor and gouache, brush, heightened with white gouache
© The Albertina Museum, Vienna


Albrecht Dürer
Wing of a Blue Roller, ca. 1500 (or 1512)
Watercolor and body color, heightened with white body color, on vellum
© The Albertina Museum, Vienna


Albrecht Dürer
The Large Piece of Turf, 1503
Watercolor and body color, heightened with white body color
© The Albertina Museum, Wien

Albrecht Dürer
Praying Hands, 1508
Brush, gray and white ink, gray wash, on blue prepared paper
© The Albertina Museum, Vienna