Among the more than 100 prints by Dürer (1471–1528) on view, such works as The Archangel Michael Battling the Dragon (1498) reveal a young artist of compositional daring. By placing a distant landscape across the bottom of his page while angels and demons swirl in close-up detail through the upper portion, he creates an inversion that feels almost cinematic—an aerial shot before airplanes. In another woodcut, The Birth of Christ (1511), angels and shepherds crowd into a tumbledown stable to admire a plump baby Jesus. The end wall is missing, and the stone arches, rough wooden struts, and worn stairs plunge in one-point perspective, combining realism with formal drama. Forerunners to contemporary styles as diverse as M.C. Escher’s geometric conundrums and S. Clay Wilson’s horror-vacui biker comix can be glimpsed in the innovative graphics that Dürer discovered just a few decades after Gutenberg invented the printing press.
Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m. Starts: July 26. Continues through Sept. 21, 2008