GENDER ANXIETY

Dürer’s focus on gender relationships ranged from Adam and Eve—the biblical first couple—to suggestive dream states, to violent and erotic mythological creatures. The tension expressed in these prints centers on the perceived power struggle between women and men and the threat of unleashed passions. The shifting meanings of these works is suggested by their frequently changing titles; the luminous nude Nemesis was titled The Great Fortune in the seventeenth century, and The Four Witches, which acquired its title in 1675, has also been referred to as The Four Naked Women and The Judgment of Paris. The impact of these images is no less powerful today, when issues of gender equality remain fraught in every sphere of life.

Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), Nemesis (The Great Fortune), c. 1502. © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA

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