Originally created 06/29/01

Michelangelo is appearing in Atlanta



More than five centuries after his birth, Michelangelo Buonarotti, commonly known simply as Michelangelo, can still pack a house.

Or so Atlanta's High Museum of Art believes.

The museum is displaying 47 objects culled from the collection at Casa Buonarroti in Florence, Italy, repository for many of the Renaissance master's surviving works.

The exhibition features 24 drawings and a sculpture by Michelangelo, as well as other works from the Buonarroti's collection. These are smaller works, figure studies, sketches and, in one case, a shopping list drawn for an illiterate assistant.

"The real goal is to give people a chance to see Michelangelo in the context of his family, to see the private Michelangelo instead of the superhuman man," said guest curator Gary Radke, a professor of fine arts at Syracuse University in New York. "What we hope to do is show the man behind the art."

The High Museum exhibition represents two-thirds of the artist's work currently on display in this country, with the remainder scattered. One of the High's works, River God, a small sculpture rendered in wax and pitch and meant to be a sort of three-dimensional sketch for a larger work, is the only Michelangelo sculpture on exhibit in the United States.

Although modest when compared with his larger, more famous pieces, such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling and his sculpture David, the drawings in the exhibition exemplify Michelangelo's brilliance. Even the dashed-off sketches are the work of an extraordinary hand, as unequaled today as it was during his lifetime.

Michelangelo's skill is especially evident in the exhibition's centerpiece, Madonna and Child, executed in chalk, lead and ink in 1525. The pensive Madonna is roughed out and unfinished, a suggestion more than a fully realized figure. The Jesus clinging at her breast pops from the rough paper. A more fully realized sketch, it almost seems sculpted rather than drawn.

The drawing also showcases Michelangelo's unparalleled ability to infuse his subjects with emotion.

"This is the most important drawing in the exhibition and in our collection," said Pina Ragionieri, director of Casa Buonarotti. "It is interesting because this is a very sad Madonna, a Madonna that seems to know that she is going to lose her baby son tragically."

On display

What: Michelangelo: Drawings and Other Treasures from the Casa Buonarroti

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 2.

Where: The High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta

Admission: $6 adults, $4 seniors and students, $2 children 6-17 and free for museum members and children younger than 6 through July 31; $8 adults, $6 seniors and students and $4 ages 6-17 from Aug. 1 to Sept 2. Call (404) 733-HIGH or visit the Web site www.high.com.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or suhles@hotmail.com.