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Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), a major figure of the Italian Renaissance, was a gifted sculptor, painter, as well as architect. For the inimitable human forms and deep spirituality he exhibited in his works, Michelangelo earned the nickname, Il Divino—the divine one.
The moniker was no exaggeration when one considers the perfection he achieved in the forms he sculpted from rock—as exemplified by David (1501-1504; Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze) and Pietà (1498-1500; St. Peter’s Basilica)—and the immensity of his paintings (1508-1512) that cover the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. His genius certainly did not go unnoticed by the rich and powerful, whose attention ensured that he would enjoy a long, eventful career.
Michelangelo worked in Florence and Rome, two cities where the artist’s influence can be found everywhere—even in their architecture. In Florence, where Michelangelo first left his mark as an artist, he designed the New Sacristy and Laurentian Library at the Basilica of San Lorenzo. In Rome, where he moved in 1534, he designed the Piazza del Campidoglio and St. Peter’s Basilica. By introducing new decorative motifs and presenting spaces that featured novel fusions of sculpture and architecture, Michelangelo’s architectural works amazed all who initially set eyes upon them, and they continue to amaze us today.
The exhibition will primarily focus on works on loan from the Casa Buonarroti—a property in Florence once owned by Michelangelo that was converted by his great nephew into a museum, which houses a large collection of materials related to the artist. The exhibition will feature seventy items, about half of which are authentic sketches and letters by Michelangelo. Models, photographs, and videos will also be presented to elucidate the artist’s architectural works. There will also be a special section dedicated to the influence that Michelangelo has had on some of Japan’s greatest 20th century architects.