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Figures for the Soul I

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1/16/2015 - 4/12/2015
Organizing institution: The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia
Eighteenth-century philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder marveled over Albrecht Dürer, whose figures "...remain in the soul." Today the inestimable skill of Dürer secures him as the father of German art and the premier artist of the Northern Renaissance. Of his numerous contributions, the greatest rests in the field of graphic arts. His innovative technique elevated the print from craft to art form, an achievement that profoundly inspired future printmakers. Drawing from the Fralin Museum of Art and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, Figures for the Soul presents a two-part series on the old master prints of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) and his celebrated successor, Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617).

Known as the Leonardo of the North, Dürer specialized in religious subjects. The first installation explores the technique and appeal of his two admired series, the Large (1497-1500; 1507-1511) and Engraved Passion (1507-1512). Acquired by patricians and merchants alike, these images were not only collected but also used as aids for prayer and meditation. Devotional tracts from Special Collections shed light on this common, though often overlooked, function. Collectively, these stunning excerpts demonstrate how his figures remain worthy of remembrance.

The second installation turns to the Michelangelo of the North, Hendrick Goltzius. Roughly two generations after Dürer, this versatile Dutch artist mastered the exuberance of late sixteenth-century Mannerism before returning to the Renaissance ideal of Classicism. The Museum's stunning prints chronicle Goltzius' evolution, permitting a careful survey of his varied influences, bold technique and acknowledged appeal to both Calvinist and Catholic. Like Dürer, Goltzius sought the beautiful, rendering figures that still rank among the finest in the history of graphic arts.

Curated by Elizabeth Dwyer, Barringer-Lindner Fellow

Exhibition Objects (9)

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