Early German art: Defined by contradictions

In the first part of the Art of Germany series, Andrew Graham-Dixon looks at the diverse art of the middle ages and the Renaissance.

Germany was for many years a collection of lands rather than a unified state. Art was integral to Germany’s development as a nation, as successive writers, artists and thinkers attempted to unlock its mystery.

Looking at such masterpieces as Cologne Cathedral, the Isenheim altarpiece and the Battle of Issus, Andrew Graham-Dixon explores the thrilling diversity of German art in this period. 

The conflict between the Renaissance and the Gothic , the provincial and the forward-thinking, and the grotesque and the elegant all reveal a tension integral to the art of Germany .

Art of Germany is on BBC World News 4-5 May.