Fondazione Palazzo Ducale Genova
More than four-and-a-half centuries after Michelangelo Buonarroti’s death on 18 February 1564, his art and, even more so, his life remain a source of wonder and admiration.
Everything about him seems to have been prodigious, even to his contemporaries: his precocious talent, his multidisciplinary skill as sculptor, painter, architect and poet and the superlative quality of his powerfully affecting, complex work. Still lucid and active at nearly ninety years of age, even Michelangelo’s longevity was unusual for the time. Active during the magnificent, tempestuous era of Renaissance through Florence and Rome, his exceptional talent and charisma brought Michelangelo into contact and, in some cases, close association with the most prominent political and intellectual figures of the time.
In Florence, he experienced the splendours of the age of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who had protected him since his adolescence, but also lived through the Medici family’s exile from the city. He heard the apocalyptic preaching of Savonarola and knew of his tragic end. He participated in the ascent of Rome, serving the Della Rovere pope Julius II and the Medici popes (Leo X and Clement VII), for whom he also worked at length in Florence. He lived through the drama of the Sack of Rome and the imperialist Siege of Florence, contributing, in vain, to the defence of the Tuscan city. He witnessed the rise of the authoritarian regime of the Medici dukes and chose exile in Rome. There, surrounded by dear friends, he spent the last thirty years of his life in the service of the popes, contributing to the renewed splendour of the Eternal City under Paul III and his successors, distressed by the suffering of Christianity divided by the schisms, up to the appearance of the Counter Reformation.
This prodigious life, strewn with the creation of worldfamous masterpieces, is the subject of this exhibition, which brings together works of art and written correspondence, much of which lent by the Fondazione Casa Buonarroti in Florence, keeper of a priceless collection of art and other material from Michelangelo’s life.
The exhibition focuses in particular on Michelangelo’s contact with exceptional figures, not least Giorgio Vasari, biographer of the artists, who created the myth of Michelangelo, while the artist was still alive, as a creator both wondrous and singular – in a word, “divine”.