Albrecht Dürer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528) was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance.
The dialogue on the art historical heritage [of the German Democratic Republic] opened with Albrecht Dürer because Dürer's "truthful nature, his readiness to identify with causes, his conviction and universality" elevated his status to that of the most convincing representative of the period covering the Peasant Wars, the Reformation, and humanism, and because socialist realism regarded itself as the "legitimate heir to all humankind's progressive creative art of earlier date." Under the Marxist-Leninist reflection theory, art was always to be understood as the outgrowth and symbol of social conditions... The secondary literature failed to position itself rigorously in Marxist-Leninist aesthetic theory, drawing on Dürer's pictorial language only in connection with its thematic and motivic aspects.
With keen curiosity and limited education, Albrecht Dürer interacted with leading humanists and scholars of the northern Renaissance, an exciting period when the spread of resurrected texts and classical art sparked a fashionable cultural revolution in his native Nuremberg. Their discussions and friendships informed many of his prints, which became monuments in the history of printmaking. Ideas Dürer confronted in his prints stem in part from his conversations with these scholars and their knowledge of ancient and contemporary literature made available in first and newly published editions.
During the 1520s [Jan] Gossart's work took on a Renaissance style, and a half dozen of the painter's depictions of the Virgin and Child demonstrate his evolution over a short period of years, as do a series of handsome commissioned portraits. These paintings reveal a sculptural eye and a close attention to the details of the body. Jan van Eyck and Albrecht Dürer were key inspirations
In about 1508 Dürer began to collect material for a major work on mathematics and its applications to the arts. This work would never be finished but Dürer did use parts of the material in later published work. He continued to produce art of outstanding quality, and he produced one of his most famous engravings Melancholia in 1514. It contains the first magic square to be seen in Europe, cleverly including the date 1514 as two entries in the middle of the bottom row. Also of mathematical interest in Melancholia is the polyhedron in the picture. The faces of the polyhedron appear to consist of two equilateral triangles and six somewhat irregular pentagons.
Albrecht Dürer was the third son of Albrecht Dürer and Barbara Holfer. He was one of their eighteen children. The Dürer family came from Hungary, Albrecht Dürer senior being born there, and at this time the family name was Ajtos. The name Ajtos means "door" in Hungarian and when Dürer senior and his brothers came to Germany they chose the name Türer which sounds like the German "Tür" meaning door. The name changed to Dürer but Albrecht Dürer senior always signed himself Türer rather than Dürer.
Along the "migratory routes" that were the channels for the exchange of artistic forms, Albrecht Dürer received the Pathosformeln (emotive formulas) of antiquity in contemporary Italian guise; and by way of Italy the Greek and Roman deities traveled North, both in their mythical roles in the astrological guise bestowed on them by the East. Astrological theory -- combining, as it did, elements of mythic imagery, practical magic, and scientific logic-- became... the neatest and more cogent example of a historically determined expressive form.
The stag beetle appeared [in] the margins of Gothic manuscripts and later in German panel painting as a symbol of Christ because of its equivalences with the stag, a holy animal since classical times, whose horns could subdue the dragon. The most famous depiction was Dürer's much copied 1505 image. Dürer included the beetle in the lower left corner of Madonna with a Multitude of Animals and in the 1504 Adoration of the Magi.
Dürer excelled at a variety of drawing, painting and printing techniques. His Europe-wide fame rested on his graphic art. The Renaissance scholar and writer, Erasmus (1469-1536), called him 'the Apelles of black lines', a reference to the most famous, ancient Greek artist.
Dürer's revitalization of print-making techniques attracted the attention of many Nuremberg scholars and patrons. They informed Dürer about the intellectual studies of the Italian Renaissance and advised on subjects for his art. He later published his ideas on art theory. His woodcuts inspired the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I to use the medium for colossal commemorative projects, in which Dürer played a leading part.
On arrival in Lisbon, Dom Manuel arranged for the rhinoceros to fight one of his elephants (according to Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis ('Natural History') (AD 77), the elephant and rhinoceros are bitter enemies). The elephant apparently turned and fled. A description of the rhinoceros soon reached Nuremberg, presumably with sketches, from which Dürer prepared this drawing and woodcut. No rhinoceros had been seen in Europe for over 1000 years, so Dürer had to work solely from these reports... So convincing was Dürer's fanciful creation that for the next 300 years European illustrators borrowed from his woodcut, even after they had seen living rhinoceroses without plates and scales.
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