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Celebrating The Th Anniversary Of Michelangelo S David, New American Library Releases A Special Edition Of Irving Stone S Classic Biographical Novel In Which Both The Artist And The Man Are Brought To Life In Full A Masterpiece In Its Own Right, This Novel Offers A Compelling Portrait Of Michelangelo S Dangerous, Impassioned Loves, And The God Driven Fury From Which He Wrested The Greatest Art The World Has Ever Known Goodreads crashed on me I didn t realize the five stars were posted but not my review You may be wondering why I rated this book so highly The book made Michelangelo and his times really come alive for me I feel like I personally know, like and respect Michelangelo as a person He was so recognizably human with family issues, rivalries, loyal friends, treacherous friends and, above all this fierce driving passion for his art, especially sculpture He was born with a gift and a genius that he acted on He was passionate, cranky, demanding, willful, opinionated, determined, driven, and unwilling to accept anything short of perfection Yet he did what he needed to do to pay the bills sometimes setting his pet projects aside for years For the first time in my life I am interested in visiting the Sistine Chapel to see his painstakingly and brilliantly executed ceiling frescoe and to view his famous marble sculpture of David with the broken arm Plus on occasion I m a sucker for epic historical novels Michelangelo lived from 1475 1565 which was a fascinating period of history Christopher Columbus gets mentioned in passing some guy who recently set sail in three tiny ships westbound to find India , Raphael and so many other famous names from the Renaissance Michelangelo had no use for Leonardo da Vinci whom he considered to be a society seeking dandy and snob I think most of this information is probably true as the book was extremely well researched with lots of primary sources, such as Michelangelo s 400 letters.
The book also gets inside his head as an artist as he designs and executes all of his work, especially his most beloved marble sculptures I had no idea there are so many grades of marble and never thought about how arduous it was to extract the right marble out of the Roman hills Or to move the finished sculptures to their designated locations.
The dense writing and length 760 pages made it a slog for me to get through but an exciting slog and I find myself thinking a lot about it That s why I gave it five stars.
I discovered this Irving Stone title in high school many many years ago, but I had not read the book again since then so it was fresh, new, and incredibly stunning for me We meet Michelangelo when he is thirteen, and follow him through his almost tortured life until he dies at age 88 In between we see him become an Artist like no other before or since We learn Art History, Italian History, Vatican History, and meet an incredible number of Popes, all of whom keep Michelangelo on a short leash I can only imagine what he could have created if he had been allowed to concentrate on the marble the way he so intensely desired to do.
But every Pope, from Julius II to Pius IV, expected Michelangelo to create specific projects just for them For example, he never wanted to paint the Sistine Chapel, he was ordered to do that job, with the promise that when he was done he could return to his sculpture He could easily have given less than 100% of himself to the work, but Michelangelo was a true artist Plus he also knew that He was a victim of his own integrity, which forced him to do his best, even when he would have preferred to do nothing at all.
So he created a treasure for the ages And did so every time he was forced away from his one true passion working the marble.
My reading of the book this time was enriched by keeping my laptop nearby and referring to it frequently I researched artists whose work influenced Michelangelo such as Donatello, whose bronze David left our young artist speechless when he first saw it I would stop reading many times just to examine the pictures of Michelangelo s works Stone has frequent passages describing the thought process as Michelangelo developed his ideas for each piece, then the physical act of creation, where man and stone seemed to merge Although I have to admit that the author s descriptions of the actual sculpting did seem a bit over the top I can understand the creation metaphors, but Stone s intensely sexual language in these sections feltthan a little creepy But the point is that to go from the printed page to a computer image of the piece was amazing, and helped me appreciate the details of the artwork, Michelangelo s genius, and even my computer better than ever.
Here is a link to see a full sized 1910 replica of David placed in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where the original statue stood until 1873 when it was moved inside the Galleria dell Accademia, Florence, where it remains today It wasn t until I saw this picture that I truly realized just how gigantic the David is Look at the people next to it They look so tiny And just think, Michelangelo was not a big burly man, the kind I have always imagined a sculptor to be He wasn t even a tall, thin man like Charlton Heston, who played the role in the movie of this book Michelangelo was only five feet four inches tall, and when working obsessively the only way he knew how he weighed less than 100 pounds of pure muscle and will power by the time he was finished And yet, he was a true giant of his era and for all time.
Even with Art History 101 under my belt, I was shocked to learn of his monumental contributions to sculpture, paint, architecture and even politics But I was eveninspired by the incredible challenges he overcame throughout all of his 90 years of life Nothing came easy What an inspiration Here is a quote from his death bed Life has been good God did not create me to abandon me I have loved marble, yes, and paint too I have loved architecture, and poetry too I have loved my family and my friends I have loved God, the forms of the earth and the heavens, and people too I have loved life to the full, and now I love death as its natural termination Il Magnifico would be happy for me, the forces of destruction never overcame creativity It took me 13 months to read this book, and I will miss it him PS If you are going to read it, make a chart with four columns Family, Medici, Friends, Enemies There are many people with long Italian names, and they all remain relevant throughout his life Irving Stone s The Agony and the Ecstasy was a magnificent literary biographical novel of the renowned and beloved artist Michelangelo It beautifully details the complexity, not only of the man, but a lifetime of his works, including the many and famous sculptures from Carrara marble, paintings, frescos and architecture, not only in Florence, but in Bologna and Rome Michelangelo s large body of work included his iconic sculptures of David and the Pieta Although he preferred other forms of artistic expression over painting, some of his most famous frescos include the beautiful ceiling in the Sistine Chapel as well as The Last Judgment on the altar wall At the age of 74, Michelangelo became the architect of St Peter s Basilica that occupied the remainder of his life He worked on models of the dome he envisioned over the nave of St Peter s so it could be completed after his death I loved this book and I m looking forward to another trip to Italy to once again enjoy these timeless artistic works of Michelangelo, but this time with a much greater understanding, appreciation and awe of the artistWhite marble was the heart of the universe, the purest substance created by God not merely a symbol of God but a portrait, God s way of manifesting himself Only a divine hand could create such noble beauty He felt himself a part of the white purity before him, felt its integrity as though it were his own Art for me is a torment, grievous when it goes bad, ecstatic when it goes well but always it possesses me When I have finished with a day of work I am a husk Everything that was inside of me is now inside the marble or fresco That is why I have nothing to give elsewhere Every work of art is a self portrait They have tremendous emotional impact it s as though I must project myself into their unfinished forms, complete them by my own thinking and feeling he was content He had come into the autumn of his life a man has his seasons, even as had the earth Was the harvesting of autumn less important than the seeding of spring Each without the other was meaningless St Peter sHe entered the church through its front portal, walked in the strong Roman sunshine down the wide nave, stood below the center of the dome, just over the tomb of St Peter He felt his soul leave his body, rise upward into the dome, becoming part of it part of space, of time, of heaven and of God I took delight in the legend, I cherished just as much the reality A remarkable, wonderful and true story telling about Agony and Ecstasy And, to the same extent, I liked the constant striving to split up from the existence of this demiurge the exact detail from the legend itself.
And yet, however impressive is in its proportions the list of titles of books dedicated to the life and creation work of the great Florentine artist, despite researches and although numerous papers have been brought out to light in the nearly five centuries that separate us from his death, we cannot help looking with astonishment at the personality of the one who is gloriously identified with the era of passion and of striving to the truth, which is the Renaissance.
The legend perhaps took birth on that day of September 19, 1510, when Pope Julius II commanded to take down the scaffolding from the Sistine Chapel To the frightful eyes of those present it was revealed a real struggle of the man and the universe His creation, the unravelling of the elements from the primordial chaos, the first encounter of shadow and light, the first gesture of man, worn and pained, a whole tragic epopee this is what brought Michelangelo from the biblical legend and the gift of his time Not only the bodies of men were tailored down to new canons, healthy and powerful bodies, dominating in a glorious strain the whole scene of Genesis The inner dimensions of this new god the man, the creator of the world, were of greatness that surpassed that of ancient or biblical divinities.
A supreme homage to the human personality, the fresco on the Sistine vault was a moment full of significance in the history of the Renaissance It elevates a passionate hymn of pure, magnificent human beauty The artist was confused, even by his contemporaries, with his work, thus becoming a mythical hero His creation is overwhelming, so the rather short and frail man began to resemble his characters, and crossed the time being represented in the posterity consciousness with a healthy and high athlete, with large shoulders, resembling his Moses and David, and not as Nicodim the short and with crooked nose, the self portrait of Pieta from Florence This is undoubtedly a side aspect the legend of Michelangelo encompassed not only life, but also part of his work.
Irving Stone sought to restore the truth in the most eloquent circumstances of a life of agony and ecstasy Agony in the original sense of the word, that is of battle, that Milton once used to portray another titan, Samson Agonistes As for the sources of Michelangelo s creation, interpretations of its meanings, the writer sometimes inclines which, after all, is normal within the genre chosen by Stone tospectacular solutions It is tempting, for example, to speak for such a tumultuous, passionate personality about the breaking of any bridge between his creation work and the older traditions And, since most of the artist s work famous researchers have contributed to the prolongation of the legend, to the preservation of this myth of Michelangelo s existence, or even to some imprecision in the appreciation of his work, it is equally understood that an author of romantic biographies, such is Irving Stone, could not afford to give up the charming pages that such an occasion could have provided him with.
The ideal of the artist approaches that of Donatello, rejecting the picturesque and gentle in the art of his first master Ghirlandaio It has Giovanni Bertoldo as master of the art of sculpture, who was Donatello s apprentice Along with the modest Bertoldo, his 15th century masters will be the sculptors of the Greek and Roman antiquities, whose works will have the opportunity to contemplate them in the gardens of Lorenzo de Medici From this happy meeting, led by the scholars gathered around Magnifico, the first works of Michelangelo appeared.
Angelo Poliziano, the Florentine humanist, urged him to carve a Fight of the Centaurs , a subject detached from the friezes of the ancient Greek temples There was the meeting of the young artist with Plato s ideas, a meeting where, in the footsteps of famous celebrities of Michelangelo, Irving Stone was referring The remark is old, it was made by Vasari and Condivi, sculptor s contemporary biographers.
At Michelangelo, tragic comes from the very condition of man, wrapped in a hostile destiny, while his thirst is heading for liberation from the chains in which he is locked by stronger powers than himself The theme of human suffering as a pained whirlwind crossed the entire work of the Titan The dying slave is a symbol of this Renaissance period illustrated by Michelangelo The resignation of the saint Sebastian, pierced by the arrows, is otherwise interpreted in the sculpture of 1512 Even though he is not trying to free himself from the chains, a tragic impulse is revealed in the attitude of the one who is destined to death.
Michelangelo has not lived, like Rafael, the serenity of his creation For him, the ultimate act of releasing the idea from the cover of the stone, the bold flight of thought, often means suffering and sadness His artistic ideal planted in direct participation in the people s aspirations of his time, was too high for his works, which we are seeing today with silent tingles, have meant something other than steps cut into a hard stone, in the dazzling way to the supreme majesty He had once dreamed of sculpting an entire mountain, and so even the dome of St Peter s Cathedral was just a small work of what Michelangelo s genius knew His despair, embodied in the allegorical statues from Giuliano and Lorenzo s graves, Lorenzo Magnifico s son and nephew, is dominated by the statue of the Thinker, that symbol of victorious reason, which, like the ancient Minerva, carries the fighter helmet.
In Michelangelo s youthful sculpture David who defended the freedom of his people, looks stoutly, with an incomparable dignity to his enemy, same as often has seen his enemies throughout whole life Michelangelo himself.
Often, his art has caused him unimaginable physical pain Followed by the obsession of his own physical ugliness, with his nose deformed by that barbarian blow that made Torrigiani s colleaguefamous than his few sculptures in Spain, Michelangelo suffered horribly on the scaffolding of Sistine.
Irving Stone sometimes talks about Michelangelo s creation as did, especially in the last decades, other commentaries as an expression of mystic ecstasy A personalist mystique that would raise to the surface from the turbulent depths of the subconscious images in which the artist recognizes, shattering, a sign that he is chosen to speak in the name of supreme forces That s what Freud and Merejkovski thought about da Vinci.
Michelangelo is, like all the great creators of his time, a rationalist Human thinking is, in his opinion, the only force able to uncover nature and man.
Michelangelo s personality is Faustian Not only in the sense of the untiring search for the truth, the supreme truth, the cosmic, and the human truth but also in the sense of love for human activity, carried out on multiple plans.
Perhaps, at the time of his death, on that February 1564, Michelangelo, looking at the amazing work he produced during his long life, could have whispered, Stop, moment, you are so beautiful
Oh good lord No wonder I m reading this book so slowly I have to keep putting it down and fanning myself Here s the young Michelangelo carving marble for the first timeHe had removed the outer shell Now he dug into the mass, entered in the biblical senseReally He s fucking the marble Apparently, yesIn this act of creation there was needed the thrust, the penetration, the beating and pulsating upward to a mighty climax, the total possession It was not merely an act of love, it was the act of love the mating of his own inner patterns to the inherent forms of the marble an insemination in which he planted seed, created the living work of artDoes anybody have a cigarette Two weeks later Finally finished Four stars as promised, it s full of agony, it s full of ecstasy It s very full of history Very enjoyable, and I learned a huge amount But the writing is just so overwrought that I removed a star.
The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving StoneThe Agony and the Ecstasy 1961 is a biographical novel of Michelangelo Buonarroti written by American author Irving Stone Stone lived in Italy for years visiting many of the locations in Rome and Florence, worked in marble quarries, and apprenticed himself to a marble sculptor A primary source for the novel is Michelangelo s correspondence, all 495 letters of which Stone had translated from Italian by Charles Speroni and published in 1962 as I, Michelangelo, Sculptor Stone also collaborated with Canadian sculptor Stanley Lewis, who researched Michelangelo s carving technique and tools The Italian government lauded Stone with several honorary awards for his cultural achievements highlighting Italian history 1978 1343 570 1344 1357 1361 567 1395 704 9789640018309 1475 1546 20 1372 1300 9643311961 1379 1393 656 9789642201389 1475 1505153418 15641489 1492 1492 1493 1496 1497 1498 1499 1501 1504 1505 1515 1508 1512 1520 1534 1524 1526 1534 1541 1547 .