Alte Pinakothek, Munich

It is only when one is a regular visitor to galleries that one discovers just how much time they spend being refurbished. Sometimes it is a big-bang approach where the gallery itself is just closed. The most recent extreme example was the Rijks Museum in Amersterdam with its 10-year extended closure (originally scheduled for 3 years). More subtly, bits of museums get refurbished, such was the case with the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. The previous attempt at meeting up with the 15/16 Century german artist, Albrecht Dürer, was thwarted. Last weekend we got to make eye contact through this exquisite self portrait. What a figure he makes. I have always liked his personal logo, seen here on the top left. Brand Dürer, 1500.

Naturally, at this time much of the art is on religious figures, not always the most sophisticated. For example, instead of making up a likeness to John the Evangelist, Dieric Bouts (right), here paints a picture of a sculpture of him. This is probably common, but I have not noticed it before. Bizarre.

Another of the delights of this period in German art is the nature of the nasties. As Andrew Graham Dixon insightfully noted in his documentary, The Art of Germany, no-one paints ghouls quite like the Germans. For example, this thing supporting a meeting between St John and Margarethe (Meister des Bartholomäusaltars). I love the way they carry on as though it is not there!

Then there’s (Meister der heiligen Sippe, right) – what might the collective noun be? – club of demons having a real go at some poor bloke against the setting of the Legende des Heiligen Eremiten Antonius. Great picture, lots going on, mostly fantastical. Very scary.

Finally, I must discuss angels. Naturally, of course, they are everywhere. The visit of the three kings (left), impeccably choreographed, has two angels above the child and parents. Now flight has always intrigued and scared me in equal measure, but I do realise that there are some physics needed to fly. These two do not really seem to have it. The physics, that is.

My favourite angels, from this particular collection, come from Meister der Lyversberger Passion dating from about 1460. The wings of these angels are unconvincing. Rather more convincing as musicians, I sense.

Great day out – and only €1 on Sundays.




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