Lewis Lapham: Michelangelo Made Art Sexy
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In his depiction of the 1364 Battle of Cascina, a decisive Florentine victory against the Pisans, he chose the ambush at the beginning.
Surprised while bathing in the Arno, naked men are leaping from the water, struggling to find clothes and armor. Graceful backs, smooth buttocks, muscular arms and legs entwine in one great intimate pile of sensual masculine flesh.
Michelangelo was intoxicated with the male body and became the first major painter to transfigure the erotic into art.
Neither finished his fresco, but the preliminary drawings and cartoons have been copied many times, reshaping cultural history.
I spoke with Jonathan Jones, author of “The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel That Defined the Renaissance,” on the following topics:
1. Medicis Overthrown
2. Leonardo’s Mona Lisa
3. Michelangelo’s David
4. Competitive Florence
5. Missing Cartoons
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