The work of some artists creates thunderous echoes down the ages. The Michelangelo exhibition explores how the titular great defined the depiction of the human form…and how his successors evolved the canon.
- Features key works by Michelangelo
- Also Dürer, Rembrandt, Rubens, Raphael, Klimt, Schiele & others
- Drawings, prints & sculptures
- Runs Sept 15, 2023 – Jan 14, 2024
- Book Albertina tickets* online
- See also:
Talent and its consequences
(Michelangelo Buonarroti; Male Nude Seen from Rear, c. 1504; black chalk, heightened with white; press photo © The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna)
Sex was (allegedly) only invented in 1963, though the nude appeared somewhat earlier. Certainly no later than the early 16th century, thanks in large part to the drawings of one Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.
Prior to Michelangelo, Christianity-driven approaches to art had largely eliminated the mythological and idealised representations of the human form familiar from Greek and Roman times.
Then along came the Renaissance and the “rebirth of the nude”.
In particular, Michelangelo’s representations of the (largely male) human body in dynamic and “ideal” form had a huge influence on his peers. That influence then ebbed and flowed through the decades and centuries as artistic depictions of the human body evolved.
This evolution, Michelangelo’s place at its genesis, and the diversity of approaches to portraying nudes form the core of the Michelangelo and Beyond exhibition at the Albertina.
The works on display run from key pieces by Michelangelo himself through to the early 1900s, by which time the nude (at least as Michelangelo saw it) had collapsed down the rankings in the canon of art.
(Peter Paul Rubens; Study of a Male Nude Leaning Forward, c. 1613; black and red chalk heightened with white; press photo © The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna)
So we also see the likes of Raphael, who shared Michelangelo’s perspective
Or Albrecht Dürer (who didn’t).
Or Rembrandt’s more realistic curves-and-all approach: he also evened up the gender bias with more female nudes, pictured with decided authenticity.
Or Klimt’s projections of beauty.
Or Egon Schiele, whose startling, half-starved angular self-portraits truly feel many centuries away from the Herculean anatomy of Renaissance drawings. Schiele almost seems to ring the death knell for Michelangelo’s approach.
The exhibition features drawings, prints but also sculptures…all taken from both the prestigious in-house collection and international loans. The 17th-century Farnese Hercules bronze statue by Giovanni Francesco Susini from the Liechtenstein Princely Collections makes an appearance, for example.
I’ll add more details once I have a chance to see Michelangelo and Beyond in detail.
Dates, tickets & tips
Enjoy the timeless quality of works by Michelangelo and other masters of the human form from September 15th, 2023 to January 14th, 2024. A valid entrance ticket for or from the Albertina includes the special exhibitions, too.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
Works by many of the artists featured appear elsewhere in Vienna. Consider a visit to:
- The Kunsthistorisches Museum, which has paintings by numerous Old Masters like Rubens & Rembrandt in its picture galleries. And a special year-end exhibition dedicated to Raphael and Renaissance tapestries.
- Upper Belvedere and the Leopold Museum: both feature a number of Klimt and Schiele paintings in their permanent displays.
How to get to Michelangelo
Just follow the travel tips at the end of the main Albertina article.
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna