Michelangelo's Moses, church of San Pietro in Vincoli
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The notion that a picture is worth a thousand words is meant to convey the power of imagery. But what of the power of words—if they are Hemingway’s musings on a work of art, Van Gogh’s personal letters, or Michelangelo’s thoughts on his life and art expressed in his poetry?
Explore the alchemy that occurs at the intersection of art and literature in this Sunday afternoon series with David Gariff, senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art.
The Poetry of Michelangelo
Much has been written about Michelangelo (1475-1564) the painter, sculptor, and architect. But Michelangelo was also a poet who left a substantial body of significant work. His poems were never published in his lifetime, but a number of them were circulated in manuscript form among his contemporaries.
Many of Michelangelo’s poems are specific references to the challenges related to some of his most important creations, from sculptures such as David and the Pietàs to the Sistine Chapel ceiling paintings. Other poems reveal his thoughts on love, religion, neoplatonism, fame, and the devotion and hard work necessary to become a great artist. The themes are often deeply personal, especially when his poems are on aging and his perceived shortcomings and failures as an artist.
Recommended reading: Complete Poems and Selected Letters of Michelangelo, Princeton University Press
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
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