By Jay A. Clarke, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
As the curator of The Strange World of Albrecht Dürer, and also a mom, I think that children will enjoy this exhibition because Dürer’s prints are full of animals, monsters, knights, and other figures that can be discovered amidst a plethora of details.
I gave my six-year-old son Liam a sneak preview of the show this morning before the Clark opened. On the way over, he practiced how to say the artist’s name, which was tough, to say the least! He was excited to see the knights, and he wanted to find a work that he could draw in my office later.
There is a big portrait of Dürer in the first room of the show, and Liam said that the artist looks like Dracula. It is a bit spooky.
Temporary tattoos of the some of Dürer’s beasts are on sale in the Museum Shop, and Liam put one on his arm. He showed the preparators (who are busy hanging the show) and was very proud when he found the seven-headed beast in the woodcut from the Apocalypse series.
He also really liked the lion in Saint Jerome in his Study (1514). When I asked him why he liked the lion so much, he went up the creature and said, “I love you lion because my name starts with an L too.”
Liam’s favorite work in the exhibition is, as expected, a knight. He particularly liked the feathered soldier in the woodcut Knight and Landsknecht (c. 1496) “because he looks cool.”
After studying a few works with one of the magnifying glasses available for visitors, Liam asked what the AD symbol means, and I told him it was the artist’s initials. Dürer was one of the first artists to consistently sign his prints with a monogram.
Liam made his own drawing of the feathered soldier and added his initials: LB for Liam Bradley. He used the photocopy machine to make copies for his two teachers—and one to bring home for Daddy.
For a curator, experiencing art made 500 years ago through the eyes of my six-year-old son was truly unforgettable.