Albrecht Dürer and the Uses of the Visual in Early Modern Germany, c. 1450-1600

Course Material 2022/23

Few periods are as exciting as Renaissance and Reformation Germany in visual terms. Printing was a new  medium, and German skill in creating printed images cutting edge. Innovation was everywhere – in terms of subjects, such as the selfie, witches or the depiction of new world inhabitants, as well as technologies, such as light-weight armour or extraordinary male fashion. Cabinets of curiosities became the most fashionable way to engage with the visual, and courts spent extraordinary sums of money to buy  coconut cups or corals. The very first treatise on collecting for such cabinets was authored at the end of our period in Germany, and its analysis will also end our course.

This course asks how the role of the arts and the artist in society evolved in this period. The first part of the course will particularly focus on Albrecht Dürer, one of the most innovative and creative artists of all times. We will collaborate with Dr Spike Bucklow and Dr Lucy Wrapson at the Hamilton Kerr Institute of painting conservation and have the unique opportunity to spend several sessions out in the Institute ́s idyllic setting in an old mill in Whittlesford to recreate some of the steps Dürer himself would have undertaken to paint. The point of this exercise is to gain a better understanding of a Renaissance painter ́s time, skill and his self-representation through reworking some of his processes. You do not need any artistic talent at all. In case teaching needs to be online, these hands-on elements will be covered by an engagement with recipes, power-points, and easy instructions to activities you might try out at home.