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The universal genius of the Renaissance



Before he even turned the age of 30, the artist Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) had already sculpted the statue of David and Pietà, two of the most famous sculptures in the canon of Western Art History. Along with his fellow Florentine Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo is one of the frontrunners for the title of the archetypal renaissance man. A sculptor, painter, engineer, and architect, the achievements of this Italian master are captured in unique TASCHEN books, publications which attest to his vast, multifaceted, and wide-ranging œuvre.

Michelangelo’s artworks embody the high renaissance and mannerist style, with their ambitious scale, complex compositions, closely observed human figures, and pointed iconographic and decorative references to classical antiquity. Michelangelo was patronized by the House of Medici, a wealthy family from Florence and many of his works still reside in the Academia Florence. While David may be his most iconic work, the relief sculpture Madonna of the Stairs, the marble statues Medici Madonna and Madonna and Child, along with his drunk and enlarged Bacchus are all profound examples of sculpture. TASCHEN book titles on Michelangelo weave his biography with an inventory of paintings, sculptures, buildings, sketches, drawings, and illustrations, all in high quality reproductions, often with enlarged details.

From his earliest youth Michelangelo transformed personal torment into exquisite creativity, attempting to reconcile the apparently conflicting forces that inhabited him: his earthly passions and his fear of God. Hence the monuments to beauty, celestial and infernal alike, that Michelangelo raised to the glory of God. His The Last Judgement, a complex and humanistic fresco covering the ceiling and altar wall of the Sistine Chapel is a work elevated for such heavenly consideration. Its most exquisite detail, The Libyan Sibyl, is frozen in a dramatic twisted pose of ambiguous movement. Michelangelo’s path of travel however, is complete. Even during his lifetime he was referred to as a god: “Il Divino” - the divine one.