NEW YORK, NY.- Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from November 13, 2017, through February 12, 2018, presents a stunning range and number of works by the artist: 133 of his drawings, 3 of his marble sculptures, his earliest painting, and his wood architectural model for a chapel vault. A substantial body of complementary works by his teachers, associates, pupils, and artists who were influenced by him or who worked in collaboration with him are also being displayed for comparison and context.
A towering genius in the history of Western art, Michelangelo was celebrated during his long life for the excellence of his disegno, the power of drawing and invention that provided the foundation for all of the arts. For his mastery of drawing, design, sculpture, painting, and architecture, he was called Il divino ("the divine one") by his contemporaries. His powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity transported viewers and imbued all of his works with a staggering force that continues to enthrall us today.
"This is an exceptionally rare opportunity to experience first-hand the unique genius of Michelangelo," said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met. "The exhibition will display the magnificent beauty of Michelangelo's works in order to deepen our understanding of his creative process."
Selected from 50 public and private collections in the United States and Europe, the exhibition brings together the largest group of original drawings by Michelangelo ever assembled for public display. Many of the drawings rank among the greatest works of draftsmanship produced. Extraordinary and rare international loans include the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his friend Tommaso de'Cavalieri and a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace.
Dr. Carmen C. Bambach, curator of the exhibition, commented: "This selection of more than 200 works will show that Michelangelo's imagery and drawings still speak with an arresting power today. Five hundred years seem to melt away in looking at his art."
Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer widens the conversation about the artist and present an extraordinary opportunity to see many works that are never displayed together. Drawing was the first thing Michelangelo turned to, whether he was creating a painting, a sculpture, or architecture, and it is what unified his career. He is a forceful draftsman and brings a sculptor's understanding and eye. We can see him thinking—almost having a conversation on the sheet of paper—and there is a sense of intimacy and immediacy, as if looking over his shoulder. The exhibition gives visitors an unmatched opportunity to enter the world of this absolute master in the history of art.
Michelangelo Buonarroti was born on March 6, 1475 in Caprese (southeast of Florence), and died a wealthy and famous man, on February 18, 1564, in Rome. Although he spent the last 30 years of his life in Rome, his love was always for Florence, his patria (homeland), and all things Florentine. His art, his training, his methods, and his poetry were, to the last, rooted in Florentine culture. Michelangelo's longevity was extraordinary for a person of his time. Also exceptional for an artist of his era, five major biographies were written during his lifetime or soon after his death.
The exhibition traces Michelangelo's life and career, beginning with his training as a teenager in the workshop of Ghirlandaio and his earliest painting, The Torment of Saint Anthony (1487–88), and first known sculpture, Young Archer (ca. 1490). It moves on to the commission of his colossal marble sculpture David in 1501, the early planning of the Tomb of Pope Julius II, and the monumental project of painting The Last Judgment on the Sistine Ceiling. An entire gallery has been devoted to the Sistine Ceiling and includes Michelangelo's original studies for the project.
Other sections explore his portraiture and the beautiful finished drawings he created for close friends; his collaboration and friendship with Venetian artist Sebastiano del Piombo (1485/86–1547); and the drawings and poetry he created for the young nobleman Tommaso de'Cavalieri, whom he met in 1532 and who became a life-long friend. The artist's last decades in Rome are reflected in the last part of the exhibition and include, in addition to architectural drawings, the enormous cartoon (full-scale drawing) he prepared for the Crucifixion of Saint Peter fresco in the Vatican Palace, as well as a rare three-dimensional model for the vault of a chapel.
Said Dr. Bambach: "His creativity continued to be phenomenal until the end when he died at 88."
Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer is organized by Dr. Carmen C. Bambach, Curator in The Met's Department of Drawings and Prints.
Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, Caprese 1475–1564 Rome), Unfinished cartoon for a Madonna and Child, 1525–30, Drawing, black and red chalk, white gouache, brush and brown wash, 21 5/16 x 15 9/16 in. (54.1 x 39.6 cm), Casa Buonarroti, Florence.
Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, Caprese 1475–1564 Rome), Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (recto); Studies for the Libyan Sibyl and a small Sketch for a Seated Figure (verso), Ca. 1510–11. Red chalk, with small accents of white chalk on the left shoulder of the figure in the main study (recto); soft black chalk, or less probably charcoal (verso). Sheet: 11 3/8 x 8 7/16 in. (28.9 x 21.4 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1924; 24.197.2. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, Caprese 1475–1564 Rome), Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over stylus ruling and lead point, 20-1/16 x 12-9/16 in. (51 x 31.9 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1962; 62.93.1. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.