Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth

August 12 – October 19, 2008  SUArt Galleries, Syracuse, NY
November 4, 2008 – January 4, 2009  Palitz Gallery, Lubin House, NYC

This exhibition explored the many sides of Michelangelo’s life and art. Highly representative examples of his work as a military engineer, architect, anatomist, poet, letter writer, painter, and sculptor allowed viewers to grasp the range of Michelangelo’s ambitions and accomplishments, revealing that both the man and his myth were even greater than we might have imagined.

Even today the accomplishments of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) seem super human.  His friends and colleagues called him ‘divine’ and admirers from around the world continue to travel long distances to see his work first hand.  Few artists have attempted and accomplished so much—and few have so actively shaped their own self image.  At the end of his life Michelangelo burned a great number of his papers and his drawings so that he could avoid appearing, as one biographer put it, “less than perfect.”

In this search for perfection, Michelangelo showed himself to be very human.  Michelangelo the man struggled with his emotions, his relationships, and the creative process.  Nothing actually seems to have come easily to him.  Michelangelo took on multiple commissions and imagined enormous creative schemes that no single human being, not even he, could hope to complete in a lifetime.

In this exhibition one learns about the places where Michelangelo worked and his accomplishments as a sculptor, painter, architect, military engineer, poet, and successful businessman.  A number of portraits allowed you to meet him face to face.  Finally, over a dozen of his original drawings and writings allowed us to see him at work.  While the master preferred to keep his creative process private—he is unlikely to have approved of an exhibition like this one—these materials demonstrate that Michelangelo the man cannot be understood without also exploring his myth.