johnturner101

MICHELANGELO’S INTERIORITY

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm

BOOK IN PROGRESS

A critical reassessment of Michelangelo’s sculptures, and selected painting and architecture.

Alongside its importance in the history of art, Michelangelo’s work (1475-1564) constitutes an epochal turning-point.  Like the works of Shakespeare (Bloom), it gives human experience a newly definitive, concrete expression.  The theme of my book is that this is so because of Michelangelo’s interiority. This word, traceable in English to the early eighteenth century, has been rare until a sudden ubiquity in contemporary literary and art criticism.  Therefore, in Chapter One I provide a definition of Michelangelo’s interiority in visual terms.  It can be defined briefly as a pattern of centripetal (into the center) movements; and of closed-form compositions like that of the Bruges Madonna (1506).

Michelangelo, Bruges Madonna, marble, 1506, Notre Dame, Bruges

A transcendent quality pervades Michelangelo’s interiority, in the belief that figures or designs are pre-existent in the mind of the artist, and the block of marble. In other words, something essential is inherent in the mind, and in the material. Other defining characteristic are the tenor of self-absorption in many of his statues; and Buonarroti’s preference for underlying volume rather than surface or pictorial effects in sculpture.  Interiority is a convenient label for invaluable things that lie inside of something else, and that need to be excavated, or preserved.  In brief, it is all about essences rather than mere appearance, ironically manifested in beautiful works of art.

The totality of Michelangelo’s interiority represents a cultural shift, as stated above: it signals a new emphasis upon individualism, or what we would call personal boundaries, in sixteenth-century Europe.  Chapter Two includes a comparative analysis of the inner life engendered by Renaissance individualism, and our current culture of exteriority.

Michelangelo’s Interiority will be a reassessment of the eloquence of his visual message, and its relevance, at five hundred years’ remove.

H. Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998).

J. Turner, “Michelangelo’s Interiority,” SOURCE: Notes in the History of Art, vol. 26, no. 1, Fall 2007, pp. 25-31.

J. Turner, “Michelangelo’s Blacks in The Last Judgment.” SOURCE: Notes in the History of Art, vol. 33, no. 1, Fall 2013, pp. 8-15.

J. Turner, “Renaissance Interiority and Modern Self-Exposure,” SOURCE: Notes in the History of Art, vol. 34, no. 2, Winter 2015, pp. 22-26.

* * *

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

I. DEFINING INTERIORITY

II.  INTERIORITY NOW AND THEN

i. Michelangelo in The School of Athens

ii. Fifteenth and Sixteenth-Century Individualism

iii. “Airing Our Dirty Laundry”

III. MONUMENTAL SCULPTURE: THE TOMB OF POPE JULIUS II AND THE MEDICI CHAPEL

III.iii. Michelangelo and Bernini: Wesen (being) and Werden (becoming)

IV. PAINTING AND SCULPTURE

i.  Bronze and Pictorial Sculpture in Fifteenth-Century Florence: Ghiberti and Donatello

ii.The Paragone (Comparison of the Arts)

V. EXCAVATING RACE AND ART HISTORY IN “THE LAST JUDGMENT”

CONCLUSIONS

List of Illustrations

Bibliographic Essay

Index

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