Michelangelo Drawings Hardcover


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Michelangelo Drawings Hardcover

Michelangelo Drawings

This book completes Professor Frederick Hartt's trilogy on Michelangelo's art: the master's paintings, his sculptures, and now his drawings. In one sense this volume is the culmination of the three, for Michelangelo's drawings are the most intimate record we possess of the creative operation of his mind and hand. Whether he planned to carve a statue, to paint a gigantic fresco, or to build a monumental structure, his ideas emerge first as drawings. He uses - and often reuses - paper of any size, and draws with pen or chalk or charcoal; he writes down lines of poetry as they come to him; he drafts letters and lists, and jots down remarks and names. And his drawings offer prime evidence of his passionate concern with forceful detail as well as with grand-scale design.
Michelangelo drew throughout his life, starting with youthful studies as Ghirlandaio's apprentice and ending with the mystical visions of his last years. He developed the art of drawing to afford an unmatched variety of manners, from measured drawings for stonecutters and stonemasons to the "presentation" drawings having unprecedented size and refinement. He does not, like Leonardo, inspect each living object to discern the order and beauty it conceals; rather, he seeks out the muscular and spiritual forces within the human body, transferring these, if need be, to the inanimate forms of architecture. This sense of purpose pervades all of Michelangelo's drawings, yet we also see in them the lyricism, the capriciousness, and the lifelong vitality of his many-faceted genius.
The sheer number of these extant works - Professor Ham illustrates over 550 of them - has led to problems of many kinds. The author brings to our assistance his scholarship and his brilliant literary style. In a wonderfully informative essay he describes Michelangelo's habits of drawing, and how these conjoin with the master's sculpture, architecture, and painting. The reader, whether he is a connoisseur or layman, will profit from the author's lucid analysis of the complicated criticism that has grown up around the authenticity of Michelangelo's drawings; the specialist will find a full concordance providing access to all such opinions. An annotated bibliography, a chronology of Michelangelo's life, and an index are also included. And Professor Hartt devotes the main part of the book to full commentaries on every drawing, complete with observations and reasoning that securely place these ephemeral sheets within the succession of Michelangelo's stupendous works.
Fortune has preserved these drawings for us; they are only the residue of what Michelangelo actually drew, for paper is by nature unsubstantial and Michelangelo himself burned quantities of drawings shortly before he died. The generous format of the book, including a number of reproductions in full color, permits us to study and treasure this heritage, and to come closer to knowing the infinite resources of Michelangelo's mind and imagination.

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