The Art and Poetry of Michelangelo
TTh 2:30-4:00pm
180 Tappan
3 Credit Lecture. Meets with RCHUMS 333.001, fulfills ULWR

The life and art of Michelangelo Buonarroti offers an exciting context for intensive study of verbal and visual creativity in early modern Europe. For his contemporaries, and for many later generations, Michelangelo exemplified the ideal modern artist postulated in the art literature and cultural theory of Renaissance Humanism. The seminar will examine Renaissance theories of style and invention in order to grasp the rhetorical strategies and poetic "figures" that inform both his rough-hewn sonnets and his eloquent marbles. Hence we will also attend closely to certain drawings that show the artist thinking on paper, in both line sketches and fragments of verse. Other central topics include Michelangelo's verbal and visual self-fashioning as a grouchy genius, his Neoplatonic theories of artistic inspiration, his preoccupation with the body as the primary source of visual and verbal metaphors, and the religious contemplation that informed his intense devotion to craft and physical beauty. We will analyze both the language and the genres of his poetry--notably the sonnet, the madrigal and the epitaph--as well as the language and ideas of contemporary critics of his art, such as Giorgio Vasari, Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, Pietro Aretino and Ludovico Dolce. Close inspection will be made of Michelangelo's drawing techniques, as well as his use of color and his treatment of stone surfaces, in order to observe the figurative effects of his working of materials (facture). We will study a considerable portion of his production in sculpture, painting and architecture, particularly in the court settings of Medici Florence and Papal Rome, while taking a critical look at the wealth he derived from this work and the linkage of wealth and artistic reputation in the sixteenth century. Required books: Michelangelo Buonarroti, Poetry of Michelangelo, trans. James Saslow, Yale University Press, 1991. Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists (Volume I), trans. George Bull, Penguin, 1987. Ascanio Condivi, Life of Michelangelo, trans. A. S. Wohl, 2nd ed. Penn State University Press, 1999. Anthony Hughes, Michelangelo, Phaidon, 1997. Michael Harvey, "the Nuts and Bolts of College Writing," Hackett, 2003. Estimated cost of materials: $100 or more, but less than $150. D.3