Michelangelo's magic show...

by - Friday, January 19, 2018

In two bonfires, he burned the majority of his sketches and drawings. It is a miracle there are any remaining preparatory works of his masterpieces. 

What would Michelangelo do in today's digital age? In the midst of Instagram and Facebook, despite how guarded he would be with his work, an assistant could surely leak some paramount images from Il Divino's sacred portfolio. Rival artists could snap photos of his caricatures on their smart phones during an impromptu visit at his studio, and casually post them online. Can you even imagine such a spectacle?

Lucky are we to view his surviving powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity in a limited engagement at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until February 12th. Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer is a stunning and inclusive show, much larger than I ever expected, winding through numerous rooms, all lined with 133 works from development to masterpiece. It is here where true collaboration with divine inspiration is on display, affirming the process of big magic he fervently attempted to hide from the world.

Curiously, two recent titles I finished reading are about just this. While Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the concept of inspiration as Big Magic and recognizing divine force as collaborator, Austin Kleon encourages sharing the whole process with the world in his practical guide Show Your Work. Both books urge individuals to be curious and creative, whether personally or professionally, let go of any fear, and find supportive alliance along the way. In these editions, both authors encourage the journey, for such experience fosters growth and affinity with oneself and others. Social media enables such individual process to be shadowed and celebrated. Kleon notes, "by sharing her day-to-day process -- the thing she really cares about -- she can form a unique bond with her audience." How many Instagram followers would Il Divino have amassed? I bet more than Beyoncé.

But such beliefs were contrary to Michelangelo's deep convictions, hence the destruction of actual drawings, figure studies and artistic plans as evidence of his artistic journey. His desire was "that no one might see the labors he endured and the methods with which he tested his imagination, so that he might appear nothing less than perfect." The Met exhibit in no way diminishes his brilliance by showing a collective narrative of remaining examples of his process. I believe it brightly illuminates the genius to perfection.

And if greatness should ever accidentally stumble upon you, let it catch you hard at work. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Looking up at a digital recreation of the Sistine Chapel in the exhibit

Hurry over to New York if you can before this amazing show ends. Grateful to have witnessed Michelangelo's magic show... xoxo-Sonya

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