Dürer, an artistic Edward Snowden? A profile on Dorothee Golz

By Staff Writer Magdalena Polak

Irritation. That is a key reaction artists want to invoke. Not only nowadays, but throughout the history of art. Is something true because we perceive it as such? What sets us off to take a second look? It is that feeling of “something”, which irritates, makes the viewer find something that is not harmonic. It is that special “something”, that is undoubtedly there, but still not tangible enough for us to put the finger on it.  Sometimes, irritation is created when the familiar is suddenly altered--something that we’ve seen a hundred times over, that has changed and forces us take a second look. This is Dorothee Golz’s specialty. 

Vienna-based artist Dorothee Golz initially wanted to study Physics and has since kept her interest in finding new ways of making people pause. Out of those experiments changed to the idea of Digital Portraits, which have the word “Irritation” written all across them. Golz has taken known portraits from the History of Art and fused them with contemporary settings by photo shopping the heads onto people of our time, thus blending together the past and the present in a spectacular way. Who would a revolutionary figure like Dürer be, if he lived in our time? And how would society look at him today? Any differently than his contemporaries did at the time? 

        "A.D."          Diasec, 85 x 60 cm, 2006

       Diasec, 85 x 60 cm, 2006

He would certainly not be an integrated member of the high society. Dürer’s Selbstbildnis im Pelzrock, dating from 1500, was through and through a revolutionary painting. Not only did he adopt the trends of the age, i.e. portraying the emerging bourgeoisie, he also went a very daring, step further in the social revolution by placing a self-confident focus on himself, thus postulating an artist’s right to be placed on par with a member of the bourgeoisie or an aristocrat. Going one step further, he deliberately painted himself in Christ’s posture, establishing himself as an equal of God.  This was not only revolutionary. It was dangerous. 

How would Dürer depict himself nowadays, someone who refuses the accepted norm and defies the ruling class? An artistic Edward Snowden? Those are questions that Golz asks herself while infusing her own modern conception of the figures pictured. For Dürer’s Selbstbildnis, she chose to portray him in a leather jacket with crossed hands, implying very much the idea of someone who means business and is not prepared to truckle to anyone

                                                La belle ferronnière                                                 2007                                                 C-Print/ Diasec                                                 111cm x 90 cm                                                 Ed. 5/7                                           

                                              La belle ferronnière
                                              C-Print/ Diasec
                                              111cm x 90 cm
                                              Ed. 5/7                                           

Golz’s Digital Painting series is born from a keen interest in historical artworks, social structures of both the past and present, and gender roles. Who would Lucrezia Crivelli, for years, mistress of Ludovico Sforza, one of the most powerful men of the 15th century, be, if she lived now? And how would people look at her today? What was she to Sforza that compelled him to commission Leonardo da Vinci to paint her in his portrait of La Belle Ferronière? And has our understanding of why he was drawn to her changed?  Placing Lucrezia on a modern woman’s body in a posture that implies self-confidence, emancipation, and challenge, this woman, dead for 500 years, suddenly becomes alive again, real, modern and emancipated. Seeing this Digital Painting and comparing it with the original, one begins to ask oneself: Was Lucrezia Crivelli an emancipated and modern woman at that time too? Comparing Golz’s artwork with the original, we begin to see the defiant and challenging look in Da Vinci’s work as well. Is that because we are being manipulated through the modern artwork, or has Golz opened a window for us to see the original more clearly? Has Golz managed to bring us closer to the artwork through alteration or just imposed her own view on that painting? And the irritation begins. Is something true because we perceive it as such? We are forced to take a second look. 

Dorothee Golz was born in Germany in 1960. After her studies at the École des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg, she moved to Vienna in 1989. Her main interests are the ideas of perception and reality, and she depicts those themes through a wide variety of media, such as drawing, sculpture, digital painting. For further works see : http://www.charimgalerie.at/kuenstler_dorothee_golz.htm