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Brueghel in Albertina: drawing the world in Wien
8 September, 2017 - 9 September, 2017
In autumn of 2017, the Albertina is devoting a comprehensive exhibition to Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the 16th century’s most important Netherlandish draughtsman.
With its 100 works, this exhibition presents the entire spectrum of Bruegel’s drawn and printed oeuvre and seeks to shed light on his artistic origins by juxtaposing his output with high-quality works by important predecessors such as Bosch and Dürer.
Included are around 20 of the Dutch artist’s most beautiful drawings from the museum’s own extensive holdings as well as from international collections, a selection that also brings together two of his final drawings—Spring and Summer—for the first time in many years. Furthermore, numerous printed treasures—sought out and painstakingly restored at the Albertina over the course of long-running research efforts—are being shown for the first time.
Pieter Bruegel’s drawings, done on the eve of the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule and amidst an era of political, social, and religious transformations, conjure up a complex pictorial world. Bruegel reflects on social conditions in a way that is humorous, down-to earth, perceptive, and deeply critical. And as a moralist, he makes a theme of human beings’ tragedy and greatness, ridiculousness and weakness.
Bruegel’s works stand out for his immense interest in the real world inhabited by his contemporaries: they feature peasants working in the fields, picturesque landscapes, alpine peaks, and intimate river valleys, but also numerous satirical and moralising takes on contemporary society as well as absurd and comical grotesques. The portrayal of the individual recedes in favour of illustrations of specific archetypes.
In Bruegel’s most famous drawing—The Painter and the Connoisseur, one of the masterpieces held by the Albertina—the artist makes a theme of art production itself: he confronts viewers with the serious, intellectual work of the painter, in response to which a purported art connoisseur can do nothing but gape perplexedly and reach into his purse. In this work, art meets with the incomprehension of the buyer and of society at large.
Top Image: Hieronymus Bosch The Tree Man, ca. 1500 Pen and ink © The Albertina Museum, Vienna