What is the legacy of Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo and the non-classical artistic legacy

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    Michelangelo and the non-classical artistic legacy Michael J. Liebmann aa Professor vid Konsthistoriska institutet, Universitetet i Moskva, Published online: 01 Sep 2008.

    To cite this article: Michael J. Liebmann (1977) Michelangelo and the non-classical kstlerische Erbe, Konsthistorisktidskrift / Journal of Art History, 46: 1-4, 1-13, DOI: 10.1080 / 00233607708603882

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  • Michelangelo and the non-classical artistic legacy of MICHAEL J. LIEBMANN

    Michelangelo embodies the concept of genius for humanity. A genius, he disregarded tradition, created new forms, apparently not based on experience. Already the first sculptures - The Ma-donnan at the Staircase, "The Centaur Fight" bear witness to a new attitude towards art, to new endeavors in comparison with the people of his time. With these early works he opened the era of the High Renaissance And furthermore, in the course of his long life, he created new types of work, the effects of which could still be felt in later centuries. If the creator of the statue, which demanded a multitude of views, he was able to to depict the growth and ebb of movement in stone, he worked out new compositional principles in wall painting and, finally, opened a new era in architecture. Soda is rightly described as a brilliant innovator.

    The fascinating brilliance of the new and the enchanting pathos of Michelangelo's work, the lack of an obvious connection between his works and the work of his immediate predecessors and older contemporaries - all of this has led to the fact that art history generally renounced elements of tradition go to the artist. With one important exception: the mention of Michelangelo's great teacher of ancient art has become commonplace. This is how the conception arose (and it still exists today) of Michelangelo - the genius who injected new life into ancient figures1.

    It is not my intention to contradict apparent facts. With all of them, I consider Michel-angelo to be the great innovator in world art2; There is no doubt that the ancient tradition exerted a strong and lasting imprint on the work of the ingenious Florentine. It is my job to show that Michelangelo, besides from antiquity, also from others

    Because much of his art that is incomprehensible, or rather misunderstood, can be explained by the reluctance to non-classical tradition in European art, since this reluctance was not caused by the whim of a genius, but rather as a result of his artistic and worldview. This development is to be valued and shows parallel phenomena in his poetic work and in his religious conceptions.

    My preoccupation with German sculpture of the 15th and 16th centuries gave me the idea of ​​examining the connections between Michelange-less and the non-classical tradition. The discoveries and publications of the last few years - especially the identification of Michelangelo's early crucifix by Santo Spirito - have confirmed this intention.3 To my astonishment I have to note that there are some sometimes very interesting and precise, but individual, statements that nobody deals with the problem of Michelangelo and the non-classical ones artistic tradition "as a whole.4 The problem is worthy of a monograph. At this point only an attempt is made to connect Michelangelo with late Gothic mystical art.

    Michelangelo turned to the late Gothic tradition during two periods of his life, youth and old age. The reasons that led him to seek his inspiration in the art of the past will be discussed later. For the time being, I only want to mention the works that are dealt with in connection with the topic of this lecture. And it is the already mentioned crucifix from Santo Spirito (now in the Casa Buonarroti, Florence) and the famous Piet in San Pietro in the Vatican; Piet and crucifix, made for Vittoria Colonna; the Piet des Florentine Dome, the Piet Rondanini (Milan, Castello Sforzesco), drawings made for them and the late drawings of the Crucifixion.

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  • This list alone allows us to make some general remarks.

    First: the objects mentioned can be divided into three-chronological groups - before 1499, the year the Roman Pieta was completed; the years 1536-1547; the last two decades. These are periods of the most intense spiritual influences on Michelangelo - the sermons of Savonarola, the dealings with Vittoria Colonna and her circle of "reformers", the complete loneliness of the aged master in the expectation of death.

    Second: the spiritual influences found their expression in traditional pictorial objects of mystical art, in the gestures of mourning and pain - in the crucifix, in the descent from the cross, in the entombment of Christ.

    The discovery of the wooden crucifix in Santo Spirito changed our view of the young Michelangelo's work in many ways5. It turns out that the still very young sculptor was not only interested in antiquity, as we observe in the "Madonna on the Staircase" or the "Battle of the Centaurs". The crucifix, which was created for the prior of the Santo Spirito Monastery and was initially located above the high altar church, shows the sculptor's extremely lively interest in the art of the late Middle Ages, and even more - from a thorough knowledge of sculpture from the end of the 14th century. and the beginning of the 15th century. One must take into account that the crucifix from Santo Spirito was not a coincidental or incidental work of Michelangelo. It was one of the first, if not the first, work of the sculptor made to order and for public viewing. SodaB was not created by chance.

    This moment is significant because it shows that the Pieta in Saint Peter is not alone in Michelangelo's work, as it might seem up to now, but is a link in the chain of the young sculptor's development. This work will be discussed below.

    Finally, the crucifix of Santo Spirito confirms the opinion that the young Michelangelo did not rely on his immediate predecessors and older contemporaries. We have only recently had the opportunity to judge this latter moment - after M. Lisner's publication of practically forgotten works of art, the wooden crucifixes of the 14th-16th century in Tuscany8.

    For tradition-bound art history, Italian and especially Florentine sculpture of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance consisted of marble and bronze sculptures. The "discovery" of a large number of wood-carved objects allows us to judge the activity of the Italian sculptors in a new way.7 Of course, rather rough, sometimes even handcrafted work forms a large part of these objects, which are cheap in comparison with marble and bronze. However, even at the center of the Renaissance culture , in Florence, carved in wood such outstanding masters as Andrea and Nino Pisano, Orcagna, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelozzo, Desiderioda Settignano, Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Benedetto da Ma-jano.Baccio da Montelupo and the members of the Sangallo family kept busy with a peculiar mass producti