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Michelangelo Buonarroti
at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
Recommendation by Bill Lasarow

The most in depth collection in terms of fleshing out one of the most remarkable careers is all of art's history comes from what was the private residence of Michelangelo Buonarroti in Florence. It is here that you go to grasp the flesh and blood individual who produced so much that remains transcendent. If the opportunity presents itself to visit the artist's home town, that is the preferred location to hear the echo of the master's footsteps. Short of that, there is both pleasure and education to be had viewing a nice cross-section of drawings, personal documents, furniture and other artifacts from the house plunked down in one of our museums. A dozen or so drawings offers limited depth, but more that the one or two we normally get to view at a time. The studies and sketches for the Sistine Chapel's ceiling and the "Last Judgent" allow us to indulge in looking over Michelangelo's shoulder. The decorative objects and a selection of works by contemporaries offers at least a hint of the context in which the daily work took place. It is often noted that he cultivated a public image of the divinely inspired artist not prone to error (he burned most of his drawings for this reason). Using draftsmanship as a means to conceive and refine his painterly decisions is at the heart of these images, not a desire to dazzle or convice the viewer. Rather than feasting on genius, it is more than enough to be impressed while coming away relieved to know the man was, after all, fallible.

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