A Life in Six Masterpieces
By Miles J. Unger
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781451678741, 432pp.)
Publication Date: July 2014
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Among the immortals--Leonardo, Rembrandt, Picasso--Michelangelo stands alone as a master of painting, sculpture, and architecture. He was not only the greatest artist in an age of giants, but a man who reinvented the practice of art itself. Throughout his long career he clashed with patrons by insisting that he had no master but his own demanding muse and promoting the novel idea that it was the artist, rather than the lord who paid for it, who was creative force behind the work.
Miles Unger narrates the astonishing life of this driven and difficult man through six of his greatest masterpieces. Each work expanded the expressive range of the medium, from the "Pieta "Michelangelo carved as a brash young man, to the apocalyptic "Last Judgment," the work of an old man tested by personal trials. Throughout the course of his career he explored the full range of human possibility. In the gargantuan "David "he depicts Man in the glory of his youth, while in the tombs he carved for the Medici he offers a sustained meditation on death and the afterlife. In the Sistine Chapel ceiling he tells the epic story of Creation, from the perfection of God's initial procreative act to the corruption introduced by His imperfect children. In the final decades of his life, his hands too unsteady to wield the brush and chisel, he exercised his mind by raising the soaring vaults and dome of St. Peter's in a final tribute to his God.
A work of deep artistic understanding, Miles Unger's "Michelangelo" brings to life the irascible, egotistical, and undeniably brilliant man whose artistry continues to amaze and inspire us after 500 years.