Michelangelo and the Reform of Art

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Michelangelo was acutely conscious of living in an age of religious crisis and artistic change, and for him the two issues were related. Michelangelo and the Reform of Art explores Michelangelo's awareness of artistic tradition as a means of understanding his relation to the profound religious uncertainty of the sixteenth century. Concentrating on Michelangelo's lifelong preoccupation with the image of the dead Christ, Alexander Nagel studies the artist's associations with reform-minded circles in early sixteenth-century Italy, and reveals his sustained concern over the fate of religious art.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book is deeply informed by theological arguments of the period, many of which are helpfully excerpted inthe text. It also suggests connections between the use of the antique in the visual arts and the long tradition of Christian exegesis, thus finding more than formal or simple iconographical parallels between the imagery of the Renaissance and that of the antique. The book is wide-ranging in its discussion and is particularly useful in its presentation of the late Pietàs within the context of church reform." Choice

"In his sustained and enlightening meditation on Michaelangelo and the figure of the dead Christ, Alexander Nagel has persuasively repositioned the artist's work within a climate of historicism and reform. He has also achieved much more than this....It is one of the merits of this book ...that Nagel focuses on the problematic, the anomalous, and the contested by way of restoring to us not only a fuller, more nuanced account of the author's range, but something of Michaelangelo's creative dilemmas..." caa.reviews

"...engages in a subtle tracing of reformist concerns in Michelangelo's work... Much scope for thought is opened up, and this, surely, is the sign of a good book." The Art Book

"This reassessment of Michelangelo's work...sheds new light on High Renaissance and mannerist art as a whole...Although this book may seem controversial and may even offend some scholars (as Nagel, himself, states in his introduction), the intent to present new and provocative ways of looking at Michelagelo's work makes it a valuable addition to the vast literature on the artist. At the very least, it will stimulate Michelangelo scholars, and others as well, to think anew and to look again at this brillian artist." Sixteenth Century Journal

"Nagel's insightful and articulate investigation of the inner workings of Michelangelo Buonnaurotias painter and sculptor...Written in a refreshingly personal style, statements of the scholar's conviction are sprinkled throughout the densely argued text." Religious Studies Review Jan 2002

"Combining beautiful formal analysis with larger theological and liturgical issues, this book, rich in new ideas, makes an important contribution to a number of issues: the nature of Renaissance cult images, medievalism vs. modernity in religious art, the mid-sixteenth-century religious crisis that pitted artistic ambition against the needs of religious art, and the evolution of visual representations of Christ's Entombment." Renaissance Quarterly

"Nagel's discussion of art and reform is insightful and thought-provoking." Journal of the NABPR

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521662925
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.97 (w) x 9.96 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Michelangelo's work as an art historian; Part I. History Painting and Cult Images in the Altarpiece: 1. Transport and Transitus; 2. Man of sorrows and entombment; 3. Humanism and the altar image; 4. The altarpiece in the age of history painting; Part II. Presentation and Withdrawal: Michelangelo's Late Pietás; 5. Passionate withdrawal; 6. Art work and cult image; 7. Sculpture as relic.

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