Albany Museum of Art Book Club to Discuss Novel About Michelangelo

Friday, September 10th, 2021

The life of Michelangelo, the leading influence on the development of Western Art, will be the topic of conversation when the AMA Art Lovers Book Club meets at 6 pm on Tuesday, Sept 21 at the Albany Museum of Art.

The club will discuss The Agony and the Ecstasy, a biographical novel of Michelangelo Buonarroti by Irving Stone. In his novel, Stone offers a compelling portrait of the famous sculptor, poet, architect and painter who soared to fame during the High Renaissance.

As a bonus, European Splendors: Old Master Paintings from the Kress Collection will be open in the Haley Gallery for those attending the club meeting. The exhibition is organized by the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, S.C., with support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. It is made possible by support from the Walter and Frances Bunzl Family Foundation.

“Being able to view these beautiful paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods should create the perfect mood for discussing the artist whose work has influenced the art world for centuries,” AMA Director of Education & Public Programming Annie Vanoteghem said.

“When you hear the name Michelangelo, you immediately think of the magnificent ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or his marvelous statue of David,” Vanoteghem said. “In his career, he realized all of the Renaissance ideals, concepts like the ‘universal man’ and the ‘inspired genius.’ He broke away from the use of mathematical formulas to arrive at a beauty of proportion, relying instead on his eyes to determine the right measure and proportion in a work of art.”

While he dedicated his life to finding the “lofty and unusual things” that he felt were painstakingly revealed to artists during their life, Michelangelo also was given to great passions. He disliked the elder Leonardo da Vinci, was intensely jealous of Raphael, and engaged in many arguments and disputes with his patrons. With a personality often compared to that of Beethoven, he was absorbed by his art, and often was antagonistic and impulsive when dealing with rival artists.

“That complicated genius aspect is captured vividly in Irving Stone’s novel,” Vanoteghem said.  “Michelangelo relentlessly concentrated on drawing out the soul of the characters depicted in his paintings and sculptures, and Stone gives the reader similar insight of the artist through his words.”

The club meets at 6 pm in the Willson Auditorium at the AMA, and the session will be facilitated by Vanoteghem. Attendees are welcome to bring a favorite beverage. (Beverages may not be taken into the AMA galleries.)

There is no cost to attend and no formal membership requirement. You may attend as many or as few meetings as you like. Participants are asked to RSVP to annie.vanoteghem@albanymuseum.com or 229.439.8400 by noon on Sept 21 so that adequate seating may be provided.

The AMA Art Lovers Book Club meets every other month so that members have time to read the selection before the meeting. The Renaissance also will be featured in the club’s Nov 16 meeting when attendees will discuss Christopher Hibbert’s The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall, which examines the wealthy family that greatly influenced the politics, economy, and culture of Florence. The family was at the height of its influence during the Renaissance.