Michelangelo's art is exhallarating, but also bewildering. What is the source of his incomparable power? In this bold and absorbing study, the art critic James Hall explores the body-language of Michelangelo's figures, and his preoccupation with the male nude. He answers many of the major puzzles - his stern Madonnas and their lack of maternal feeling; his concern with colossal scale and size; his passion for anatomical dissection; the meaning of the drawings made for his young lover Tommaso da Cavalleri. By asking basic questions about Michelangelo and his times, Hall sheds dramatic new light on many of his most familiar works, including the statue of David, the narratives of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and his haunting late images of the dead Christ. This book re-assesses the popular idea of Michelangelo as an artist-superman possessed of titanic mental and physical powers, and the long-held view of him as brilliant but unbalanced, obsessed with the male nude. Hall sees him as the first artist to put the unadorned human body centre stage, giving him a profound relevance to our own time, in which visual artists and writers are so fixated on 'the body'.
If we really want to understand our own culture, he argues, we need to understand Michelangelo. This compelling new study offers us a way to do so.
James Hall studied at Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute of Art.He writes, lectures and broadcasts widely on art history and contemporary art, and was awarded the first Bernard Denvir Prize for an outstanding young critic.His previous book was the critically acclaimed study, The World as Sculpture- The Changing Face of Sculpture from the Renaissance to the Present Day (also published by Pimlico).