Thursday, December 28, 2017

Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer

"The Torment of Saint Anthony" by Michelangelo
There were two great Michelangelos in the history of Italian art.  Michelangelo Antonioni and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who Ariosto coined “Il Divino.” There’s no sense debating who was greater. Michelangelo Antionioni was influenced by the spiritual void depicted in the paintings of de Chirico, but you might say that there’s a little of the painter Michelangelo when you think about the way he lavished attention on the beauty of Monica Vitti’s face in L’Avventura. Amongst the 133 Michelangelo drawings on display in the current Met exhibit, "Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer," is one of the “teste divini,” a drawing of the aristorcratic Andrea Quaratesi whose luscious lips and dreamy gaze display a similar infatuation. It might be said that Michelangelo, the painter and sculptor loved the male form as much as his filmmaker namesake enjoyed that of women. His study of Christ from 1519 verges on pornography and in viewing Michelangelo the sacred and the erotic are closely entwined. Provenance is one of the themes that is underscored at the Met. The curators point to the fact that Michelangelo was inured in the work of predecessors from a more heroic period like Giotto and Massacio, but one of the striking paintings in a show devoted primarily to drawing is the almost ghoulish “Torment of Saint Anthony”(1487-88) based on a Martin Schongauer print. Was Hitchcock thinking of this painting when he directed The Birds? Then there is the cloaked “Study of the Mourning Figure” which hearkens back to Donatello’s bronze pulpit for the church of Saint Lorenzo.

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