Dürer's Christ-like self portrait(1500) is often regarded as a turning point for humanistic expression in painting
The Art of Germany is a new 3-part series written and presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon for BBC Four. It is currently airing in the UK and is available for view and download via iPlayer. For those outside the UK that enjoy Andrew's work, part one can be viewed below.
The first episode of The Art of Germany focuses on the Middle Ages and The Renaissance, but does seep into the Baroque as well. I found AGD's description of the organic nature Gothic architecture very interesting. Indeed he relates a lot of German art as originating from a primordial source in tune with the German forest landscape, a description explored by writers from Tacitus to Goethe and beyond.
What really comes to the fore in this series is AGD's love of history. Whilst he does spend some time discussing artists' techniques - he always goes to great lengths to set the scene in a historical sense - something which I really enjoy about his work. Like many, my first exposure to German Renaissance Art was Dürer, whose prolific career is fascinatingly related.
This episode also explores rich examples that help develop a much clearer picture of the German Renaissance beyond Dürer - deeply influenced by Medieval and Netherlandish stylistic markers, as well as local folkloric iconography. Particularly intriguing was AGD's description of Dürer as the 'exception to the rule' - not typical of a German artist of his day - due to his Italian exposure and influence.
It was also nice to get a glimpse of the Crucifix of Gero(955-970) at the Cologne Cathedral - something which was recently covered by Monica Bowen in a superb post at Alberti's Window entitled Crucifix of Gero Conundrum.
In somewhat related news, it was interesting note that BBC recently announced plans to make iPlayer available internationally in 2011 - with either a subscription or ad supported service. I welcome it - as long as they allow remote embedding so we can link to clips!
The excerpt below focuses on Grunewald and Dürer: