Art and Poetry of Michelangelo
Painter, draughtsman, sculptor, architect and poet, Michelangelo Buonarroti exemplified the ideal artist of the Italian Renaissance for centuries after his death in 1564 at the remarkable age of eighty-nine. This seminar will examine a substantial portion of his work in Rome and Florence as well as a large selection of his sonnets, madrigals and verse fragments. One of our goals is to understand Michelangelo's importance in a time and place that was fairly crowded with artists of genius and ambition (Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael among them) while observing the construction of his larger-than-life reputation in contemporary biographies and criticism. Another goal of the seminar is to tease out the intimate connections between Michelangelo's poetry and visual art, both on the level of subject matter and on the level of figurative imagination. Hence we will attend closely to a number of drawings that show the artist thinking on paper, both in line sketches and fragments of verse. We will examine his selective imitation of ancient sculptures, such as the Belvedere Torso and the Laocoön, his Neoplatonic philosophy of vision, his preoccupation with the human body as the central metaphor of art, his intensely religious devotion to craft and physical beauty, and his self-fashioning as a grouchy genius who slept in his boots.
Course requirements: 3 short papers; 2 slide-essay exams; term paper 10 to 15 pages (draft and revision).
Textbooks: (a coursepack of photocopied readings will also be required)
Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Poetry of Michelangelo, trans. James Saslow, Yale UP, 1991. (ISBN: 0300055099)
Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists. Volume I, trans. George Bull, Penguin Books, 1987. (ISBN: 0140445005)
Ascanio Condivi, The Life of Michelangelo, trans. A. S. Wohl, 2nd ed. Penn State UP, 1999. (ISBN: 0271018534)
Anthony Hughes, Michelangelo, Phaidon, 1997. (ISBN: 9780714834832)
Michael Harvey, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing, 2nd ed., Hackett, 2013. (ISBN: 9781603848985)
Estimated cost: $50-100.
HISTART Categories for Concentration Distributions: 3. Early Modern, D. Europe and the US.