Relevance and Reverence

By Emily Ferguson

“Let it be inscribed on the portals of the world’s museums,” Robert Hughes wrote. “What you will see in here is not meant to be a social experience. Shut up and use your eyes.” This is precisely what the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest colossal achievement, “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer,” demands. The exhibit, open until February 12, provides a behind-the-scenes look into the life of Michelangelo Buonarroti through his most intimate works—the incomplete, the first drafts, the drawings he made for his lovers—rendered in the most delicate mediums of chalk, ink, and graphite on paper. The show has been called an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And it is.

The 200 works, including 133 drawings, are set in dimmed rooms—any more light would damage the time-worn pieces. People are coming here to learn, which is exactly what the excellent curator and eminent art historian Carmen Bambach wants. She hopes her show will explain Michelangelo’s expertise in disegno, a word comprising both drawing and design, and his terribilita, which she says describes “awesomeness” and “uncontainable energy.” It is arranged in chronological order, which not only conveys the evolution of Michelangelo’s art—it humanizes a legend by drawing our attention to his youngest aspirations.

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Source:: Washington Free Beacon