Editor's Choice Archive 1

Albrecht Durer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from Vienna’s Albertina

On display until June 9, 2013

By Patricia Keegan

The first time I beheld Albrecht Dürer’s drawings, I was spellbound. It was in Weimar, in the former East Germany, shortly after the Berlin wall came down. I remember looking at the lines, at the detail, but mostly at the emotion depicted in the head’s slight tilt, in the eyes, in the fineness and confidence of each line. To me it spoke of a heroic intimacy with life. Far from being an art critic, I only know what excites me -- and what doesn’t -- and here was the epitome of the combined magic of pencil, soul and paper.

On a recent visit to the National Gallery of Art, once again I saw even more of the amazing work of this great master. I particularly love the head drawings starting with the artist’s self portrait at 18 years of age, the Head of Christ, Head of a Young Woman, Head of an Apostle with cap, Head of an Apostle Looking Up, until finally I became teary-eyed standing in front of An Elderly Man of Ninety Three Years. The set of the head, the sadness of lowered eyes, the lined, dry-looking skin, the curly beard, all combine to create a profoundly moving image of life. In my humble opinion this drawing should inhabit the same space in the world’s consciousness as Leonardo da Vinci’s, Mona Lisa.