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Virginia Quarterly Review -
"This fascinating volume lets us watch genius creating itself."—Don Fry, Virginia Quarterly Review
In this engaging and handsome book, Cammy Brothers takes an unusual approach to Michelangelo's architectural designs, arguing that they are best understood in terms of his experience as a painter and sculptor. Unlike previous studies, which have focused on the built projects and considered the drawings only insofar as they illuminate those buildings, this book analyses his designs as an independent source of insight into the mechanisms of Michelangelo's imagination. Brothers gives equal weight to the unbuilt designs, and suggests that some of Michelangelo's most radical ideas remained on paper.
Brothers explores the idea of drawing as a mode of thinking, using its evidence to reconstruct the process by which Michelangelo arrived at new ideas. By turning the flexibility and fluidity of his figurative drawing methods to the subject of architecture, Michelangelo demonstrated how it could match the expressive possibilities of painting and sculpture.
Winner of the 2010 Charles Rufus Money Book Award given by the College Art Association
As the definitive mannerist architect, Michelangelo challenged conventions of form, space, order, and scale. Brothers (architecture, Univ. of Virginia) presents the possibility that Michelangelo may have been among the first to conceive of drawing as a means to architectural design. Appropriately, she begins with an analysis of the artist's drawing techniques and their incorporation into the Sistine Chapel ceiling figures, reminding us that painter-architects were more the norm than the exception. The particular contribution here, however, lies in Brothers's analysis of the most celebrated of Michelangelo's architectural work, the Laurentian Library vestibule, which links the upper cloister and the reading room at San Lorenzo in Florence. For this, architecture becomes the subject, no longer subordinate to sculpture, no longer framing the human figure. Each detail of the space is described in relation to the architect's drawing skills and innate sense of architectural composition. Although not as well illustrated as Giulio Carlo Argan and Bruno Contardi's Michelangelo: Architect and far narrower in its perspective, this book will substantially deepen larger collections on architecture of the late Renaissance.