Art and Communication in the Age of Medieval Media Revolution

Networking was not invented yesterday – Albrecht Dürer and his works of genius proved that as long as 500 years ago. When Dürer‘s fame was spreading throughout Europe, one of the major intellectual and spiritual renewals had also arrived in Germany: Humanism. It was promoted by a rapidly growing culture of letter writing and book printing, and facilitated a worldwide exchange of opinions on science, art, literature and history. Dürer understood one thing: the bright readers of those books and letters would also be ideal viewers of his graphic prints. This intellectual awakening also created completely new needs: authors, correspondents and interlocutors were supposed to be present, not only through their writing, but also visually. This led to the flourishing of two art forms, which were small and handy and could be sent by post: portrait medals and printed portraits. This was the background to Dürer’s masterly portraits of Pirckheimer, Erasmus and Melanchthon. There are also two portrait medals of Dürer – the last portraits to be published during his lifetime. By juxtaposing these exhibits from Dürer’s time with today’s rapidly spreading communication systems, the exhibition illustrates a key point: those who participate in networks will stay in the picture – often for many centuries.