Monograffi Fine Art Gallery
~  Manfred Juergens  ~
To go directly to Manfred Juergens' Gallery


        Manfred Juergens is a German artist residing and working in Hamburg. His oeuvre covers portraiture, still lifes and landscapes. Portrait of Bernard von Resen by Albrecht Duerer

        According to the artist, there are two main influences on his work. He has admired the art of the Old Masters since his youth, and even copied some works in order to get a feel for how painting was approached many centuries ago. He has also always been fascinated by the 20th century art of Neue Sachlichkeit, works produced during the volatile years of the Roaring Twenties. Above all, Juergens is impressed with the art of Albrecht Dürer and Otto Dix .Close study of their work has inspired him to adopt the Mische Technique, which he now uses in all of his paintings.

       The Mische (or Mixed) Technique dates back to Flemish painter Jan van Eyck (c1395-1441). Artists prior to this time  painted with Egg Tempera, essentially pigment mixed with egg binder. In Van Eyck's technique the artist used multiple layers of transparent oil color glazes, alternating with white egg tempera applied for highlights. The introduction of oil combined with the tempera facilitated the rendering of very fine detail and realism, which became main characteristics of the Northern Renaissance. The artists of northern Europe quickly learned that the usage of oils enhanced the color of their pigments and gave them flexibility for creating larger works. The Mixed Technique became a mainstay  for Dürer, Hans Holbein the Younger and other northern Masters. Van Eyck's major works all were  painted in the 1430s. It was several decades later before his tempera and oil technique was adopted by Italian artists, notably by the Venetian master Giovanni Bellini . Italian artists soon were experimenting with their own recipes. Artists began adding litharge (white lead) to their glazes, which promotes oxidation and thus faster drying. Leonardo added bees wax in order to prevent darkening of the painting over time. Soon the introduction of the plant resins damar and mastic allowed artists to simplify and speed up the process of completing a painting. By the mid 16th Century, all artists had stopped using straight Egg Tempera in favor of some technique incorporating oils. Variations of the Mixed Technique remained the fundamental methods of oil painting used by most artists until the mid 1800s, when paint in tubes became available and the Modernists abandoned traditional approaches in favor of Direct Painting.

        Manfred Juergens' admiration of Otto Dix stems from the Self Portrait, 1912 by Otto Dixlatter artist's study and use of the Mixed Technique. Dix also developed a deep appreciation for the Old Masters as a youth . Although his output is diverse and introduces many Expressionist elements, it includes many  remarkable works in gritty Realism, all painted with the use of oil glazes. He found inspiration in the art of German Masters , especially Dürer and Hans Baldung Grien .Dix, more than any other artist in the 1920s, recorded what he saw, whether in the streets of Berlin, in clubs and brothels, and in his memories of his time in the trenches. His exemplary works of the late 1920s, such as The War and Metropolis, made a virtuoso use of the triptych format, paying homage to the masterful composition in great altarpieces of the 15th and 16th centuries. Yet it is in his portraiture that Dix could couple his incisive eye with the unheimlich (uncanny), a central theme of Neue Sachlichkeit, to capture an insightful perception of his sitter. Quite often the resulting painting turned out less than flattering. Although none of Mr. Juergens' subjects would feel slighted by his portrait of them, he does share with Dix the ability to perceive. Yet what he sees today is quite different than what Dix witnessed in Weimar Germany.

         The second important area of work for Manfred JuergensStill-Life with a Box of Sweets and Bread Twists, 1770 by Luis Melendez are his still lifes, which he approaches with the same fervor as his portraits. However on this theme, other than a few works by Dürer, artists must look to later periods to find classical references. Caravaggio was the first master to seriously undertake the theme of still lifes as the subject of the painting. His work is noted for its vivid realism, including details of plant disease and pests, as well as deformities in fruit and vegetables. His art informed generations of Italian Baroque artists, as well as   important groups of painters in Spain . The Spanish groups, known as Bodegón artists, worked less with floral subjects and rich banquets, more with raw vegetables, undressed game, and simple tableware. Notable among of the Bodegón artist were Francisco de Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, Juan Sánchez Cotán of the 17th Century, and later Luis Melendez of the 18th Century. During the Dutch Golden Age, of the 17th Century, there were many accomplished artists working with still lifes. The most notably  was Willem Claesz Heda, known for his sumptuous arrangements. The Dutch point of view celebrated the prosperity derived from their success as a trading nation .

       With regard to animal subjects, Mr. Juergens treats them with the same attention to detail as his portraits. Georg, the roster, shows that he has more dignity than the low-life woman, laughing in the background. Treated in the classic portraiture style of the German Masters, this painting demonstrates a juxtaposition and irony that would be very typical of a Neue Sachlichkeit work.

         The art of Manfred Juergens is related to the current movement of Classical Realism, although as an artist he has developed his skills independent of any atelier, and his choice of techniques predates academic art . His influences belong to the traditions of European art, yet the naturalism and clarity of his aesthetics brings to mind Andrew Wyeth or the Egg Tempera art of High Realism . Painting with the Mische Technique requires considerable planning, patience and weeks, if not months, of careful work. The question rises as to why an artist would choose a method of painting with such a high degree of difficulty. Perhaps the answer, at least in Manfred Juergens' case, is to bring oneself spiritually back in contact with the masters of the Renaissance, and the great continua of Realism in painting. It is a true labor of love, one that can be appreciated by us all .

Manfred Juergens' Gallery

Artist's Web Site: