Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Munich 4.6.1998: Dürer Wild Men, Moderne Friends

On train, Gräfelfing to Munich, with breakfast just over. Maria has just told us of two friends of hers, gay men, who live, I think, in the Low Countries, and who dislike the term “gay,” because it’s so common (?). They’ve invented their own term, “moderne,” which Maria claims is spreading, in part, due to her apostleship of it. She seems to have quite a few moderne friends.

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At the Neue Pinakothek: the Dürer exhibit. “Glim Lamentation”” death and the heavenly city, recurring fixations of Christianity.

The Paumgartner altarpiece: Paumgartner family kneel humbly (as tiny figures) before the Madonna and child. As with the death-heavenly city theme, a concern with transmutation. Yet this is pretend humility, since these wealthy burghers are immortalized forever in the painting, having had money to buy such “humble” immortalization.

Dürer’s self-portrait, fur coat: more transmutation. A self-conscious echo of the Vera Ikon tradition: artist as Christus. Transmutation appeals to any artist, since it’s what art’s all about—making the ordinary sacramental.

The Oswalt Krel painting: I see transmutation again. Guidebook notes that Krel’s portrait is idealized, an attempt to portray the inner self. The wild men on either side (which may or may not be part of the original composition) are interesting. Gothic legend has it that descendants of Cain lived as “natural men” in wooded areas. Here, they hold coats of arms for Krel and his wife—civilization transmuting nature, which nevertheless wants to retain its “wild” basis, albeit “civilized.”

Hadler: interesting 20th-century (?) German painter. I need to learn more about him.

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