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Michelangelo's Mountain

The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries of Carrara
Scigliano, Eric (Book - 2005 )
Michelangelo's Mountain
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No artist looms so large in Western consciousness and culture as Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most celebrated sculptor of all time. And no place on earth provides a stone so capable of simulating the warmth and vitality of human flesh and incarnating the genius of a Michelangelo as the statuario of Carrara, the storied marble mecca at Tuscany's northwest corner. It was there, where shadowy Etruscans and Roman slaves once toiled, that Michelangelo risked his life in dozens of harrowing expeditions to secure the precious stone for his Pietà, Moses, and other masterpieces. Many books have recounted Michelangelo's achievements in Florence and Rome. Michelangelo's Mountain goes beyond all of them, revealing his escapades and ordeals in the spectacular landscape that was the third pole of his tumultuous career and the third wellspring of his art. Eric Scigliano brings this haunting place and eternally fascinating artist to life in a sweeping tale peopled by popes and poets, mad dukes and mythic monsters, scheming courtiers and rough-hewn quarrymen. In showing how the artist, land, and stone transformed one another, Scigliano brings fresh insight to Michelangelo's most cherished works and illuminates his struggles with the princes and potentates of Carrara, Rome, and Medici Florence, who raised intrigue to a high art. He recounts the saga of the David, the improbable masterpiece that Michelangelo created against all odds, of the twin Hercules that he tried to erect beside it, and of the Salieri-like nemesis who snatched away the commission, turning a sculptural testament to liberty into a bitter symbol of tyranny and giving Florence the colossus it loves to hate. Scigliano plumbs the Renaissance archives, uncovering previously unpublished and untranslated documents, and trolls the earthy cantinas of Carrara, where old cavatori who wrestled giant blocks from the mountains by hand recount the miseries and glories of a vanishing heroic age. He takes readers along with another sojourner, the exiled poet Dante Alighieri, who drew his visions of Hell and Purgatory partly from the surreal panorama of Carrara's quarries. Interweaving art, architecture, science, politics, folklore, and even quarry cuisine, he traces the mystique of marble and the magic of the stone carver's art from prehistory to the present, and shows how they culminate in the triumph and tragedy of Michelangelo's Pygmalion-like quest to bring life out of stone.
Authors: Scigliano, Eric, 1953-
Title: Michelangelo's mountain
the quest for perfection in the marble quarries of Carrara
Publisher: New York : Free Press, c2005
Characteristics: 352 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Contents: Pietra Viva
The sculptor in the garden
Cities of stone
The Magra's mouth
The cardinal's Pieta
David and the orphan stone
The painter and the sculptor
The tomb of dreams
The brotherhood of stone
The agony of the bronze
Painting in stone, sculpting with paint
The promised land
"The mirror of all Italy"
Taming the mountain
The walls come tumbling down
The kiss of the Medici
The last blows of the chisel
ISBN: 0743254775
9780743254779
Branch Call Number: 709.2 Mic
Statement of Responsibility: Eric Scigliano
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 332-337) and index
Subject Headings: Sculptors Italy Biography Marble industry and trade Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564
Topical Term: Sculptors
Marble industry and trade
LCCN: 2005040150
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app08 Version tobio (tobio) Last updated 2014/09/24 13:12