Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two self portraits by Albrecht Durer

*Durer's name has an umlaut over the U but I can't be troubled to type it in.

Durer, self-portrait at 26.

Durer, self-portrait at 28.
Durer was notoriously vain. Guess which spun-gold flowing feature he was proudest of? In the first portrait we'd probably call those "Taylor Swift barrel-curls," while I think the second may be classified as, "beachy waves" or a "tousled boho" 'do. His mod black and white outfit with taupe capelet and provocative decolletage is quite sharp but only Janis Joplin could pull off the Davy Crockett-meets-Shakespeare costume below.

Durer's work is always off-putting because it reminds me of math class, but still absorbing because he belonged to that very early generation of representative artists in whose work you can see them struggling to see the world. In other words, his work reveals the act of him visually learning, which is what I enjoy most about da Vinci, Giotto, Michelangelo and van Eyck as well. European painting lost that a bit once stylistic conventions solidified in the late 1600s.

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