MICHELANGELO, THE GREAT FLORENTINE
PAINTER AND SCULPTOR OF HISTORY

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News - March 27, 2015

"Disfigured, Unfinished, Like Us"

"Michelangelo's best known Pieta is in St. Peter's in Rome. Here the figure of Mary sits sad but serene with the corpse of Jesus in her lap, reminiscent of a Madonna and Child. Another, in Florence, has a figure - usually thought to be Nicodemus - supporting Mary, who holds Jesus. A fourth figure, thought to be Mary Magdalene, stands to their right.

....One compelling aspect of the third Pieta is how unfinished it is. It is clearly a work in progress. Experts propose that Michelangelo was reworking this block of marble from an earlier idea he did not finish. This would account for a shaped and polished but unattached arm to the left of the figures of Jesus and Mary. Jesus' legs are also polished. The rest is in very rough cut."

Article at America Magazine by Edward W. Schmidt

Still time to see Michelangelo, but not much longer

"Regarded by some as the Renaissance's most famous artist, he was the equivalent of a rock star in his day.

"He made a very good living so he was able to take care of his family for several generations until the family died out in the 19th century," said Gilbert Vicario, chief curator at the Phoenix Art Museum.

He is the one overseeing the Sacred and Profane - a rare exhibition of 26 drawings from Michelangelo's one-time home, now study museum, Casa Buonarroti.

The Phoenix Art Museum is the exhibit's last stop before it returns to Italy at the end of March. There is still time to see the show before it leaves."

Article at East Valley Tribune


News - June 24, 2013

Michelangelo charcoal drawings to be displayed for first time at Basilica San Lorenzo

"The drawings are currently inaccesible due to reasons of both restoration and security. Though they were first discovered in 1975, this is the first time they will be shown to the public. Produced in charcoal, they are though to have been produced by the artist from June- August 1530, a period of time which Michelangelo spent hiding in the basement of the Basilica, fearing he would be reprimanded by members of the Medici family for his supporting role in the establishment of a Florentine republic."

Article on the event at Art Media Agency

The Basilica San Lorenzo web site (italian and English) is here.


News - December 12, 2012

National Gallery unveils Michelangelo's David-Apollo for Year of Italian Culture

Washington Post story on the start of an exhibit of Michelangelo's 1530 sculpture.

"The decision to launch 2013, the Year of Italian Culture, with this exhibit was easy, even natural," he went on, pointing out that this marks the David-Apollo's second appearance in the United States. The marble sculpture, carved but never quite completed in 1530, was installed at the NGA during President Harry S. Truman's inaugural reception in 1949, a loan from Italy as a sign of gratitude for America's postwar aid."


Pieta Michelangelo

NEWS July 31, 2010

MICHELANGELO PAINTED GOD WITH A HUMAN BRAIN STEM

An online article at Fox News describes the research that went into identifying an (almost) hidden image of a human brain stem inserted into the neck of God in the Sistine Chapel painting section of 'Separation of Light from Darkness.' Discoveries of hidden images in Michelangelo's work has been one of the most revolutionizing elements of recent Michelangelo scholarship. (For an overview of a similar level of placement of hidden images into a painting, read about the Spanish artist Goya's works in this regard.)

Michelangelo's depiction of God's throat in one panel of his Sistine Chapel fresco is awkward -- odd for an artist so devoted to the study of anatomy. Now researchers have a theory to explain why: Michelangelo embedded an image of a human brain stem in God's throat, they find.

The Renaissance artist is known to have studied human anatomy by dissecting cadavers when he was a young man, and continued until late in his 89 years. This practice informed his powerful depictions of the human and the divine.

But one panel of his Sistine Chapel frescoes contains an oddly lit and awkward image of God's neck and head as seen from below. The light illuminating the neck was different from that of the rest of the painting. Also, God's beard is foreshortened and appears to roll up along the sides of his jaw, and his bulbous neck has prompted speculation that Michelangelo intended to portray God with a goiter, or abnormally enlarged thyroid gland.

Two researchers – one a neurosurgeon, the other a medical illustrator – writing in the May issue of the journal Neurosurgery have another, more flattering theory. In this panel, which portrays the Separation of Light from Darkness, from the Book of Genesis, Michelangelo embedded a ventral view of the brainstem, they wrote.

Using a digital analysis, they compared the shadows outlining the features of God's neck and a photograph of a model of this section of the brain, which connects with the spinal cord, and found a close correspondence.

This is not the first anatomical image found hidden in the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. In an article published in 1990, Frank Lynn Meshberger, a gynecologist, identified an outline of the human brain in the Creation of Adam. Among other details, he noted that the shroud surrounding God had the shape of the cerebrum, or the upper part of the brain. A decade later, another researcher pointed out a kidney motif.

[Below: Screen shot of the Fox News item on their web site]
Michelangelo news brain stem

This is the abstract describing the article published in the May 2010, Volume 66, Issue 5 of Neurosurgery magazine. Article abstract is at journals.lww.com:

Start QuoteMichelangelo Buonarroti (1475 - 1564) was a master anatomist as well as an artistic genius. He dissected cadavers numerous times and developed a profound understanding of human anatomy. From 1508 to 1512, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. His Sistine Chapel frescoes are considered one of the monumental achievements of Renaissance art. In the winter of 1511, Michelangelo entered the final stages of the Sistine Chapel project and painted 4 frescoes along the longitudinal apex of the vault, which completed a series of 9 central panels depicting scenes from the Book of Genesis. It is reported that Michelangelo concealed an image of the brain in the first of these last 4 panels, namely, the Creation of Adam. Here we present evidence that he concealed another neuronanatomic structure in the final panel of this series, the Separation of Light From Darkness, specifically a ventral view of the brainstem. The Separation of Light From Darkness is an important panel in the Sistine Chapel iconography because it depicts the beginning of Creation and is located directly above the altar. We propose that Michelangelo, a deeply religious man and an accomplished anatomist, intended to enhance the meaning of this iconographically critical panel and possibly document his anatomic accomplishments by concealing this sophisticated neuroanatomic rendering within the image of God.End Quote

Entire article (with many images) is online here.


July 3, 2009

MICHELANGELO SELF PORTRAIT IDENTIFIED IN VATICAN PAINTING

The Los Angeles Times has a brief article in their Culture Monster blog describing the finding of a supposed self-portrait of Michelangleo. The image (see below) was identified during restoration work on the fresco "Crucifixion of Saint Peter" (painted approx 1542-1550) by Michelangelo:

The Vatican announced this week that restorations of frescoes by Michelangelo show that the artist incorporated what is believed to be a portrait of himself in one of the murals. The discovery was made in the Vatican's Pauline Chapel, which is used by the Pope and isn't open to tourists.

A figure riding horseback in a blue turban in the upper left corner of Michelangelo's "The Crucifixion of St. Peter" is a self-portrait, according to the Vatican. The mural was created between 1542 and 1549, when the artist was in his 70s. The chief restorer, Maurizio De Luca, said that the self-portrait resembles portraits of the artist made by Giuliano Bugiardini and Daniele da Volterra.

The restorations began in 2004 and cost an estimated 3.2 million euros, or $4.5 million. The Pauline Chapel contains two important murals -- "The Crucifixion of St. Peter" and "The Conversion of St. Paul.

Screenshot of the story from the Los Angeles Times online

Michelangelo Crucifixion of Saint Peter

The purported Michelangelo self-portrait (Enlargement from previous image):
Michelangelo Self Portrait


NEWS June 18, 2009

MICHELANGELO "FIRST PAINTING" EXHIBITED

The New York Times has a review by Holland Cotter of an exhibit of "St. Anthony Tormented by Demons" by a purportedly quite young Michelangelo:

Every supernova starts as a modest spark. Even Michelangelo began his career with less than Sistine-worthy work. What, exactly, was he doing? According to the 16th-century art-stargazer Giorgio Vasari, the master's virgin effort was a smallish, slightly customized painted copy of a German print.

The print, an engraving by Martin Schongauer called "St. Anthony Tormented by Demons," was in wide circulation when Michelangelo began his art apprenticeship in Florence in 1488. It was at this time, according to Vasari, that he produced the painting. He would have been 12 or 13. It was only later that he turned his attention to sculpture.

Long out of sight, this early picture, or one now identified as such, has resurfaced. Recently bought by the Kimbell Art Museum in Forth Worth, it has been conserved and examined at the Metropolitan Museum, where it is making its American debut in a tiny gallery display titled "Michelangelo's First Painting." If the picture is indeed the real thing, it's quite a catch, being one of only four known easel paintings by Michelangelo, and the only one in an American collection.

Screenshot of the story from the New York Times online
Michelangelo Tormented by Demons


NEWS December 6, 2007

UNKNOWN MICHELANGLEO SKETCH FOUND

The Breitbart site here tells of the Vatican finding a Michelangelo drawing for the St. Peter's Basilica:

The sketch, drawn in blood-red chalk for stonecutters who were working on the construction of the basilica, was done by the Renaissance master in the spring of 1563, less than a year before his death, L'Osservatore Romano reported.

"The sureness in his stroke, the expert hand used to making decisions in front of unfinished stone, leave little doubt, the sketch is Michelangelo's," the newspaper wrote about the discovery, which it said will be presented at a news conference at the Vatican on Monday.

The sketch shows that Michelangelo "on the threshold of 90 years of age, even though he wasn't coming regularly to the (basilica) construction site, continued to take binding decisions" on how the work was being carried out, the Holy See's official newspaper commented.

The sketch "now becomes the last known design of the artist," the newspaper said.

Michelangelo, who began working on the basilica's construction in was in his late 80s when he did the sketch. The sketch is especially rare, the Vatican newspaper noted, because the artist ordered many of his designs destroyed when he was an old man.

The sketch was discovered in the Fabbrica of St. Peter's, which contains the basilica's offices.

L'Osservatore Roman said most sketches done by Michelangelo for the stonecutters were destroyed or lost in the cutters' workplaces, but this one survived because a supervisor used the back of the sketch to make notes about problems linked to the stone's transport through the outskirts of Rome.

Assistance in the research for the sketch came from the University of Bonn and Rome's Bibliotheca Hertziana.

Michelangelo apparently drew the sketch for the stonecutters because he was dissatisfied with how with some blocks of travertine were cut, the newspaper said.


NEWS August 16, 2006

Forgery and Michelangelo

The Australian newspaper site The Age has an article by Simon Caterson on the history and contemporary controversies in art forgery:

Michelangelo was not above producing fakes, according to his contemporary biographer Giorgio Vasari, who died in 1574. In Lives of the Artists, Vasari, who met Michelangelo, describes how the then struggling young artist, who was an accomplished copyist, was advised that an original life-size statue of a sleeping Cupid he had sculpted could be sold for a higher price if the buyer thought it was an ancient artefact. Vasari wrote that Michelangelo then buried the statue and used other ageing techniques.

When the buyer, a cardinal, learned of the deception, he promptly demanded a refund. Interestingly, in this case Vasari sided with the artist against the victim of the hoax: "The fact is that, other things being equal, modern works of art are just as fine as antiques; and there is no greater vanity than to value things for what they are called rather than for what they are."

In despair, the artist character in Carey's novel asks: "How do you know how much to pay if you don't know what it's worth?" Vasari acknowledged that "every age produces the kind of man who pays more attention to appearances than to facts". Meanwhile the Cupid statue, which, despite the deception perpetrated by Michelangelo would now be considered priceless, appears to have been lost.


NEWS June 15, 2006

Michelangelo for $1.99

Article at the Seattle Biz Journal about high resolution images going online at inexpensive prices (to me, sounds like iTunes with pix):

Seattle-based GalleryPlayer will sell images from its collection on the site. High-definition images by artists such as Monet, Michelangelo, Matisse and Salvador Dali can be downloaded for prices ranging between $1.99 and $2.99 per image. Other images, such as photos of the world's greatest golf courses and beaches from around the world, can be purchased for 99 cents.


Michelangelo at the British Museum a big success

Article by Andrew Ferren at the New York Times about the Closer to the Mastershow

The old stereotype that British people, if they see a line forming, will immediately stand in it, has been getting some fresh reinforcement at the British Museum here where a blockbuster exhibition has been created around some relatively small works. The hubbub should be no surprise given that the artworks in question, however diminutive in scale, are by Michelangelo (1475-1564), an artist whose last solo engagement at this museum was some 30 years ago.

The popularity of the show has lead the museum to extend its hours. Since "Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master" opened in March, such has been the public enthusiasm that the British Museum has announced that it will keep the galleries open until 10 every night in the show's final week, June 18 through 25. Taking things another step - or rather two hours - further, on Saturday nights this month the exhibition remains open until midnight, taking the august institution into the city's lively nightlife realm for the first time.

On these evenings, along with the stunning selection of 90 drawings by Michelangelo - ranging from Annunciations, Crucifixions and lamentations to more than a few muscle-bound male figure studies - the museum is also serving Italian antipasti, desserts and wines at special stands in the Great Court. For the next two weeks, dinner and a masterpiece will be a viable option to the more typical cinematic Saturday night date.


NEWS April 18, 2006

Michelangelo and How Modernism Failed

Article at the Scotsmen.com by Duncan MacMillan

Modernism is the latest in the V&A's great series of blockbusters, or, better than that, stepping stones across the rising tide of ignorance. Michelangelo should be a blockbuster but the drawings at the British Museum are too personal for that. Will Maclean is one of our best contemporaries, but he isn't even having a one-man show at Art First. He is sharing it with Simon Lewty.

Modernism impacts on the life of all of us, even though it happened a long time ago - the exhibition brackets are 1914-1939 - and that is a measure of its success, for it was a deliberate attempt to change the world. That's why the show relates to architecture, planning and design, rather than art. It's about lifestyle.

...Michelangelo embodies many of the things the Modernists rejected. His was a heroic vision of humanity, but there is no simple-minded optimism in his work. You see that more than anything in his drawings. The rhetoric of the Sistine Chapel is like great theatre. You stand in awe to admire a distant spectacle. But with the drawings, you are alone at the artist's shoulder as he works. He made studies from the life for every single figure in his ceiling and in the towering Last Judgment.

And many of the studies that survive are here. He did the same for his great sculptural projects - the Medici tombs and the Tomb of Julius II - and for his architecture. His first thoughts for the dome of St Peter's are here, too. But the life drawings are the main thing. They combine supreme delicacy with the clarity of extraordinary intellectual force as hand and eye take apart the human body to construct it again into a glorious edifice of imaginative possibility. But not everything is heroic. There are also deeply contemplative drawings, especially of the Crucifixion, from late in his life. He strips away everything, working and reworking till the image is reduced to a profound expression of quiet humility. Perhaps the Modernists could have used a little of that.

The Scotsmen article is here.


NEWS April 4, 2006

Michelangelo Drawings Exhibit

Closer to the Master - British Museum through June 25, 2006

The Economist magazine covers the exhibit with an online article here

MICHELANGELO was so afraid that his drawings would reveal the secrets of his art that he hid them from all but a close circle of intimates and had many of them burned before his death. The Renaissance master would be deeply shocked by a new exhibition at the British Museum, for it delivers squarely on its promise of bringing the viewer into intimate contact with his creative genius.

This show - the first in a generation - is possible only because Michelangelo's drawings had become collectors' items even during his lifetime. Not that many became available. In order to preserve the uniqueness of his drawing, the artist refused to have his compositions engraved. Furthermore, as the most celebrated artist of his day - three biographies were written in his lifetime - he was, in effect, pre-booked for years doing papal commissions. Despite this, around 600 sheets of his drawings survive and the British Museum displays 90 of them by joining three of the greatest collections of Michelangelo drawings: its own and those of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Teylers Museum in Haarlem in the Netherlands.

The show presents drawing as the lifeblood that flows through all of Michelangelo's work - sculpture, painting and architecture. As the curator, Hugo Chapman, says: "We wanted to tell his life through drawings - in them we can get a sense of all of his great projects and understand him as a man. It is through his drawings that he expresses his ideas, his emotions and his faith."


NEWS

Michelangelo exhibit at the British Museum

The International Herald Tribune has a story by Alan Riding on the Michelangelo exhibit at the British Museum:

The British Museum's acclaimed new show of Michelangelo drawings is an invitation to voyeurism, albeit not, as may be supposed, because of the Florentine master's undisguised worship of the naked male body. Rather, it is because Michelangelo never intended his drawings to be seen by eyes other than his own or those of his family and pupils.

Shortly before his death in Rome in 1564 at 88, he ordered many of his drawings and other papers destroyed in two bonfires. The record shows that he also burned some drawings in 1518. And in between, surviving letters indicate, he chastised his father for permitting works on paper to be seen by outsiders and ignored a nobleman's repeated pleas to be allowed to buy a drawing.


NEWS

New Michelangelo exhibition in London gives audiences a chance to see the creative process

The Miami Herald covers the exhibit too (article by Elizabeth Kusta):

A new exhibition in London gives audiences a chance to see the creative process behind such Renaissance masterpieces as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the interior of the Medici Chapel in Florence. Michelangelo would not have approved.

''He wouldn't have been pleased to see us surveying his working drawings,'' said Hugo Chapman, curator of Italian drawings at the British Museum and author of a recent book on the artist. ``Michelangelo just wanted you to look at his finished work and be overwhelmed.''

The British Museum is billing Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master as a show of ``works that Michelangelo, the perfectionist, wouldn't have wanted anyone to see.''

They reveal the painstaking preparation behind the great artworks -- a process Michelangelo did his best to disguise. He regularly destroyed his sketches so that rivals could not steal his work.

The UK Guardian covers the exhibit also here.

The Canadian CTV covers the exhibit here.

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