Recently, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has brought European masterpieces to Los Angeles to commemorate the 500 years since Martin Luther pinned his 95 thesis to the door of the church in Wittenburg. The exhibition “Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach” features key pieces of German art from the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation.
The Reformation was marked by profound changes in thought, philosophy, science, and most importantly, religion, which had a significant influence on the transformation of many artists’ styles of painting. Despite the serious political and religious turmoil of the period, Europe witnessed a flourishing of many states and cities, leading to advances of craftsmanship and productions of innumerable famous masterpieces. Artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Hans Holbein, Mathias Grünwald, Tilman Riemenschneider, Peter Vischer, and a host of others reflected this new vision of the world in their works.
The exhibition comprised over 100 pieces, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, arms and armors, as well as decorative arts. Even though artworks from this era rate among the most important chapters of German and European art, there was a great deal of disagreement among artists at the time – from variations in styles to their ways of treating subjects. LACMA’s exhibition told the story of how the Reformation created a lasting impact on central European culture and how it successfully dealt with different point of views and styles of artists during that time.
Diana Freeman, an art history student at Glendale High School, told JSR, “this exhibition was such a special opportunity to see the greatest achievements of German Renaissance artists. I visited LACMA for more than three times but this exhibition featured unique style of works that I’d never seen before.”
Mrs. Chaplar, an art history teacher at Crescenta Valley High School (CVHS), also said, “there were many pieces of art that were used to teach the Bible to common people during the Middle Ages in this exhibition. It was typical for artists to base their motifs on biblical themes during the Protestant Reformation because many people couldn’t read biblical texts,” showing the significance of such an exhibition.
The exhibition was supported by three different art museums in Germany and ran from November 20, 2016 to March 27, 2017.