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A Rehabilitation Long Overdue - Picturing America
Moment of Awakening - The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden


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"A Moment of Awakening"
The Press on "The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden

Along with the van Eyck brothers, the Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden are considered to be the most important pioneers of modern-era painting. They discovered the visible world and recorded it with what was then the new technique of oil painting—employing a richness of detail heretofore unknown. In "The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden," the Städel Museum, supported by Deutsche Bank, shows approximately fifty masterpieces of Early Netherlandish painting. The press raves over a unique exhibition—and paintings whose power remains undiminished, even after 500 years.

It is "the most beautiful Early Netherlandish exhibition in decades" writes Willibald Sauerländer in the Süddeutsche Zeitung in reference to The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden. The show at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, which will travel to Berlin's Gemäldegalerie in March of this year, touches upon one of the most "ticklish issues in connoisseurship;" even after decades of controversy, the provenience of many of the paintings on show remains hotly contested. Petra Bosetti dedicates a large part of her feature for art to the dispute over the identity of The Master of Flémalle. All experts agree on one point, however: "It remains undisputed that this mysterious master (…) gave completely new impulses to Early Netherlandish painting and ushered in the dawn of modern-era painting." Michael Kimmelmann of the New York Times also mainly dedicates his article to the irresolvable questions concerning the paintings' attribution; he comes to the conclusion that "beauty resides not just in the pictures (of course), but in doubt itself. That art of such profound and unprecedented verisimilitude, which took such pains to record the minutest details of the world, should remain shrouded in such a fog is both a paradox and healthy reminder of a basic truth: Great art is always a mystery."

"An irresistibly beautiful presentation of Early Netherlandish painting" is how Eduard Beaucamp of the FAZ describes the show at the Städel, which together with the Gemäldegalerie "accomplishes the feat of bringing together major works by the painters discussed here from the world's best museums to correspond with each other splendidly. (…) One can hardly get enough." In the NZZ, Gerhard Mack is particularly impressed by the "fresh view of the world" the painters were able to capture in oil paint. "For the first time, human existence (…) can be seen and understood for what it is." In the Zeit, Petra Kipphoff prizes a "pleasure in the reality of one's own everyday life" so evident in the paintings shown. To Tim Ackermann of the Welt am Sonntag, Tournai, the Belgian city that was home to the workshop of the Master of Flémalle, seems to be a "laboratory for the renewal of Early Netherlandish painting and later for panel painting in all Europe." In the Frankfurter Rundschau, Arno Widman highlighted the innovative spirit of the artists of the time, their "self-confidence and their firm rooting in the modern era. (…) This is a great moment: a moment of awakening. There is no mood of doom here (…) but rather a hunger, a desire for something new and the certainty that one will do it well, better than anything that has gone before. It's this life bursting with optimism (…) that lends these paintings their irresistible attraction."

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