April 10th, 2006

Fishy Circumstances

Michaelangelo and Fuseli

The Michaelangelo drawings exhibit at the British Museum opened some Thursdays ago, during my mother's short visit here, so we joined the crowds thronging the panels to see it. The goal of the exhibit - to show a large selection of Michaelangelo's drawings in intimate circumstances - was entirely successful. I looked at nearly every drawing from inches away, the ebb and flow of ink-lines shown clearly. Drawings in particular show off the power of a line to evoke form. And Michaelangelo could draw. Bodies are all muscle for him, arranged to show off different sets, arrange to show off muscles which don't even exist, but arranged in endless variety on the page.

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A day or two later, we went to the Gothic Nightmares exhibit at the Tate. Henry Fuseli's work was highlighted, but there were many works by William Blake and other romantic artists, contextualized with literary excerpts which had inspired them. The Romantics were enamored of Renaissance painting and many of them modeled their work after that spirit, copying Michaelangelo's Sistine figures as exercises, for example. Since I only had time to work my way through the first three rooms of the Gothic Nightmares exhibit - the rooms which concentrated most on the male figure - I saw the show primarily with respect to the other.

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