Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Durer's Journeys

Self-Portrait at 28 by Albrecht Durer

In his review of "Durer's Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist,"now on exhibit at The National Gallery, Gabriel Josipovici quotes the German art historian Erwin Panofsky on the artist’s self-portrait of his sickly body at 32: “The convalescent painter looks at his emaciated body and still haggard face with the same mixture of fatigue, apprehension and dispassionate curiosity with which a farmer might take stock of his crops after a bad storm.” There are two salient elements that inform the artist’s work, at least as rendered in this description. The first is illness and decay and the second is something akin to analytic neutrality. At least according to Panofsky’s description, Durer treats himself with an almost miraculous level of detachment. Famously psychoanalysts are taught not to give the patient what they want, even in those central life passages, when the need for sympathy is so great. The artist here puts himself on the couch offering none of the answers he himself might have desired. How reminiscent this is of the “impersonal” view of poetry proposed by T.S. Eliot in his famous essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” It's the rare artist or civilian who can take stock of themselves. It's almost impossible to see one's image in the mirror. In fact it’s almost axiomatic that human beings are blinded by the apparition of themselves.

watch the animation of Erotomania on You Tube

and listen to 'I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Loved You)" by Aretha Franklin

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