Michelangelo tried to destroy his early drafts; it didn’t work
Back in December, Daniel and I spent a week with his folks on the east coast. We mostly kicked it around his childhood home and sweet little hometown, catching up with his family and friends. But on one particular day of our visit, we ventured into the big city: New York. Our mission: To meet up with Michelangelo at the Met.
A few general notes:
- Periodically throughout the day, it was very rainy in the city, and walking around the packed corridors of such a bustling metropolis with umbrellas in hand is a particular kind of exercise in sharing one’s space with the rest of humanity. The only way to survive was to imagine that as we lifted our umbrellas to ease past one another, we were offering tips of our caps in salutation and encouragement.
- Keeping a group of eight people together through the crowded subway lines — the very crowded subway lines as it was two days before Christmas — takes courage of the heart, mind and spirit.
- New York is a magical city around Christmas time. That’s it, that’s all for this note.
Now, to Michelangelo. The exhibit in question focused on the sketches, drafts and early processes behind his work. An achievement for the curator, as Michelangelo attempted to burn these drafts to hide the process from the public view, desiring instead for everyone to think his genius happened without much effort. Which is kind of a bummer viewpoint, isn’t it? When I was a photographer at The Denver Post, I visited a number of artist’s studios, and I loved documenting their artistic efforts. The triumphs, the grief, the scraps of previous attempts laying about and still visible, as if urging the artist further along. Witnessing the struggle and knowing how that struggle eventually transformed into something beautiful and brilliant enhances the end result, it doesn’t detract from it.
So, Michelangelo, I’m glad that despite your destructive intentions, your process wasn’t truly lost to time, and that you had friends and colleagues who recognized the genius still present in all those discarded drafts.
Doesn’t quite measure up to the real thing in Rome, but at least this one you can take a picture of without being severely scolded by a Vatican guard using dramatic Italian words that you don’t understand.
Art is an adventure.
SIGNED, anya elise
I lived in Manhattan for one year when I was 25. I still miss it and remember my adventures as if it were yesterday. Of course that was decades ago and my rent controlled two bedroom apartment cost $129/month. ????
I had no idea you ever lived in Manhattan! I always felt I might live there one day, but who can tell. (Though, it would be much more likely if we could find a rent-controlled apartment at such a low rate!!)