The Man and the Myth
Michelangelo Buonarroti was a very complicated being. Not only was he a multitalented artist—renowned equally as a sculptor, painter, and architect—he was also an impressive military engineer, student of Dante, and poet in his own right. What is more, his behavior was full of contradictions. He was renowned for his fiery temper and yet wrote tender love poetry. In spite of his legendary impatience, he committed himself to tasks that required years of sustained attention. He skimped on his own food and lodging, paying little attention to his own bodily needs, and yet created some of the most beautiful human figures ever imagined. He constantly complained about not having any money but amassed a considerable fortune that kept his family comfortable for two centuries. Though he enjoyed the reputation of being a solitary genius, he directed dozens of assistants, quarrymen, and stonemasons to carry out his work.
Still more Michelangelos were invented by others. The sixteenth-century artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari made him into an artistic savior, imagining that a gracious God had given the world Michelangelo to inspire and perfect the arts. His family transformed part of their home (the Casa Buonarroti) into a shrine to their famous forebear. In the twentieth century, novelists and movie producers have portrayed him as a tortured, manic genius.
This exhibition catalog explores multiple facets of Michelangelo's life, art, and reputation. Beginning with portraits of the artist, examples of his literary works, printed editions of his poetry, and an example of modern music inspired by his sonnets, the catalog shows representative examples of his work as a military engineer, architect, anatomist, poet, painter, and sculptor. Lavishly illustrated, including five fold-out 11" x 14" pages, this book provides viewers an unprecedented opportunity to grasp the range of Michelangelo's ambitions and accomplishments, revealing a man and a myth that are even greater than we might have imagined.
Pina Ragionieri is Director of Casa Buonarroti.