Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), a towering genius in the history of Western art, is the subject of this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. During his long life, Michelangelo was celebrated for the excellence of his disegno, the power of drawing and invention that provided the foundation for all the arts. For his mastery of drawing, design, sculpture, painting, and architecture, he was called Il Divino ("the divine one") by his contemporaries. His powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity transported viewers and imbued all of his works with a staggering force that continues to enthrall us today.
This exhibition presents a stunning range and number of works by the artist: 133 of his drawings, three of his marble sculptures, his earliest painting, his wood architectural model for a chapel vault, as well as a substantial body of complementary works by other artists for comparison and context. Among the extraordinary international loans are the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his friend Tommaso de' Cavalieri and a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace. Selected from 50 public and private collections in the United States and Europe, the exhibition examines Michelangelo's rich legacy as a supreme draftsman and designer.
Accompanied by a catalogue by the organizing curator of the exhibition, Carmen C. Bambach—an authoritative volume that examines the Renaissance master as "the divine draftsman and designer" whose work, according to Giorgio Vasari, embodied the unity of the arts.
"The must-see show of the season … an art historical tour de force" —New York Times
"A stupendous metaphysical-visual exhalation … Just go." —New York Magazine
"A magnificent show" —New Yorker
"This is the show of the year." —Observer
"Contains more masterpieces-per-foot than we might ever see in New York again" —WNYC
"Monumental" —Village Voice
"Brilliantly curated by Carmen Bambach ... this is likely the finest show on the artist any of us will ever see." —New York Review of Books
Additional support is provided by an anonymous donor, the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund, Dinah Seiver and Thomas E. Foster, Cathrin M. Stickney and Mark P. Gorenberg, Ann M. Spruill and Daniel H. Cantwell, and the Mark Pigott KBE Family.
It is supported by an Indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The catalogue is made possible by the Drue E. Heinz Fund.
Additional support is provided by the Wolfgang Ratjen Stiftung, Liechtenstein.
On Now at The Met, exhibition curator Carmen C. Bambach highlights two of the works on view and discusses Michelangelo's hands-on approach to selecting the marble used in his sculptures.
In this interview, Publishing and Marketing Assistant Rachel High speaks with Carmen C. Bambach about the exhibition catalogue, the power of Michelangelo's drawings, and the artist's savvy shaping of his own history.
Research Assistant Jeffrey Fraiman sits down with scholar James M. Saslow for a Now at The Met interview to discuss Michelangelo's practice as a poet, the meaning of his gift drawings, and the study of the artist's homoeroticism since his death in 1564.
Associate Curator Femke Speelberg recounts the interesting tale of a painting based on a cartoon by Michelangelo (the latter of which is featured in this exhibition) that was almost given away by raffle in 1735.
Banner image: Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475–1564). Studies for the Three Labors of Hercules (detail), ca. 1530. Red chalk, 10 11/16 x 16 5/8 in. (27.2 x 42.2 cm). Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017, www.royalcollection.org.uk. Related Content images: Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475–1564). Apollo-David (unfinished) (detail), c. 1530. Marble, H. 146 cm (57 1/2 in.). Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence (Sculture 1879, no. 121) | Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475–1564). Archers Shooting at a Herm (detail), 1530–33. Red chalk. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017, www.royalcollection.org.uk | Giorgio Giulio Clovio (Julije Klović) (Croatian, 1498–1578), after a lost drawing by Michelangelo. Rape of Ganymede. Black chalk, 7 5/8 x 10 7/8 in. (19.5 x 27.5 cm). The Royal Collection / HM Queen Elizabeth II (RCIN 913036)