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Michelangelo and the Ideal Body

Masterworks full of mysteries come to Japan


Michelangelo Buonarroti left the world with many masterpieces in painting and architecture, but he considered himself a sculptor first. David-Apollo, a mysterious sculpture he crafted late in his life, will be exhibited in Japan for the first time.

0605_2The sculpture’s greatest mystery is what exactly it is supposed to represent. David is the hero of the Old Testament who slayed the giant Goliath. Apollo is the god of light and art in Greek mythology. No conclusion has been reached as to whether the mass of stone on the statue’s back is David’s sling or Apollo’s quiver.

Under the statue’s foot is a mound of stone with chisel marks. This could be Goliath’s head, but it is probably something else. Given this and the mass on its back, the entire statue seems to be roughly carved. Michelangelo left Florence for Rome to finish work on The Last Judgement without completing this statue. To us it appears unfinished, but Michelangelo may have determined that no further work was required on it.

In addition to David-Apollo, this exhibition will feature Young St. John the Baptist. This is a work that Michelangelo crafted when he was about 20, before he became famous for Pietà. Its astounding perfection speaks to his precocious genius. The world has about 40 existing marble statues by Michelangelo. To be able to compare two of them at once in Japan is indeed a rare treat.

Other statues from ancient Greece and Rome along with paintings from the Renaissance will be exhibited at the venue. This will be a great opportunity to trace the influence of Greek and Roman forms of human expression on Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists.

(Text: Naoko Aono)

Michelangelo and the Ideal Body
Dates: June 19 (Tues) – September 24 (Mon, holiday), 2018
Venue: The National Museum of Western Art 7-7 Ueno-koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Times: 9:30-17:30 (Fridays, Saturdays until 21:00; admission until 30 minutes before closing) Closed Mondays (open July 16, August 13, September 17, September 24; closed July 17)
Admission: 1,600 yen (general), others
Contact: 03-5777-8600 (Hello Dial)

Michelangelo Buonarroti, David-Apollo, c.1530, Firenze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, h. 147cm, marble
Firenze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello / On concession of the Ministry of cultural heritage and tourism activities.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Young Saint John the Baptist, 1495-96, Úbeda, Capilla del Salvador; Jaén (Spain), Fundacion Sacra Capilla del Salvador, h. 130 cm, marble
Úbeda, Capilla del Salvador; Jaén (Spain), Fundacion Sacra Capilla del Salvador © Ministero per I Beni e Le Attivitá Culturali e del Turismo, Opificio Delle Pietre Dure



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