ARTH 330
Michelangelo: Biography, Mythology, and the History of Art Fall 2009
Division I Writing Skills
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Class Details

One might argue that Michelangelo’s enduring fame, and his preeminence in the western art historical canon, is as much a product of his artistic persona as his artistic achievement. Indeed, the modern notion of the visual artist as a brooding, even tortured genius of unstoppable creative force finds its roots in the Italian Renaissance. This is largely due to the singular figure of Michelangelo, whose life and career are more fully documented than those of any western artist to precede him. And Michelangelo’s mythic individuality, alongside his artistic innovations and contributions, have made him a fundamental force in the shape of the history of art as we understand and study it today. Students of this tutorial will become well-acquainted with the life and work of Michelangelo through the examination of a wide variety of primary and secondary sources: contemporary Renaissance documents, letters, poetry, andbiographies; art historical surveys, monographs, and studies; and documentary and popular film. They will give their critical attention, however, to the intersection between this artist’s biography and his artistic production. We will focus on a number of important questions arising from this connection. What, for example, is the nature and reliability of the evidence used to reconstruct Michelangelo’s life and personality? What are the grounds for interpreting his work according to his philosophical outlook, religious beliefs, and even sexuality? To what extent was Michelangelo responsible for shaping his own persona for posterity? Is the myth of this artist distinguishable from his reality? And to what extent have all these issues shaped our own thinking about artists and the history of art?
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1894
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on the quality and improvement of written work (5 weekly papers and 5 response papers, and a final written exercise addressing major themes of the tutorial), and oral dialogue
Prerequisites: one Art History course of any level
Enrollment Preferences: none; open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills

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