Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Michelangelo at the Met

A crush of people greeted us at the Michelangelo exhibition at the Met—perhaps the the most crowded I have ever been at Manhattan's great museum, notwithstanding what one faces at rush-hour in the subway. The first two rooms were the worst, and then things got better. We went on the last weekend, and I would have gone again, but it wasn't meant to be. 

Having been in Rome multiple times to see the Sistine Chapel, I was struck by the hint of grandeur at this exhibition. Go to Rome! I wanted to tell everyone. This is great. We'll never get to see these drawings again, but you really must see the man in his element. 

One huge drawing in the last room (not seen here) came closest to capturing Michelangelo writ large, while the smaller works revealed the artist's affection for various nobles—homoeroticism shining through work after work. The man loves men—that much was clear: he was the first artist to use male figures as guards on the ceiling of the aforementioned chapel, and gives them (to these eyes anyway) a great deal more attention than he does to that of women. His male figures aren't the jacked anorexic wonders you see today on Instagram. No, these men have flesh and muscle, angles and bulk. 

Did Michelangelo go all classical at the end of his life? That's the impression this viewer was left with in the final room. And by classical, I mean a retreat into geometry as spirituality. Architecture drawings predominated, as well as a model of the dome of the Vatican. Very glad I saw it. Now, I must get back to Rome (and Florence). 

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