Derek and I made it a point this past weekend to see a rare exhibit of Michelangelo’s treasured sketches. It’s rare because The Muscarelle Museum of Art will be the only U.S. venue for this exhibit. Seriously. With so few pieces, if any, of Michelangelo’s work on display in the U.S. this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. I mean it’s freakin’ Michelangelo.
The Muscarelle Museum is located on William & Mary’s Campus in Williamsburg, Virginia. The museum dedicated their entire upstairs area to this exhibit. This area consisted of three large open rooms, one of which contained Michelangelo’s work. Probably no more than 12 pieces all hung quaintly around the room. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this exhibit but I was pleasantly surprised.
Each piece had writing on one or both sides along with incomplete, airy sketches of the human form or architectural elements. Some of the pages looked as if pieces were dissected from them and transplanted elsewhere. The beautiful thing was that there wasn’t any order to this madness. As I made this realization I suddenly became very aware of what these were. These were doodles. You know, the kind you find in your sketch book, on a grocery list or even on a scribbled phone message. Looking at these pieces reminded me of looking through an artist’s sketch book. It gave me the feeling that I was peeking into the brain of Michelangelo and truly getting a sense of his creative process, no matter how chaotic it might appear.
I personally feel that my sketchbook is a very intimate part of my artistry. It’s the one place I can draw, write, do whatever and it’s not at the mercy of an audience. It was very touching being in front of these pieces because I can only imagine that these were the seeds to some of Michelangelo’s greatest works. Of course I had to laugh when I read an excerpt on a fact that at an older age, Michelangelo burned most of his sketches and writings. He didn’t want the world to see his process because he might appear less than perfect. How ironic that these be hung under frames in museums.
Sorry guys, we couldn’t take any photos. It was dimly lit and they had a guard stationed in that room alone. We did scan some of the pages from the museum’s booklet that you can see above. These were pieces in the exhibit. Besides, I don’t think photos would do the experience justice. You just have to be there. You still have the opportunity up till April 11th. If you are close to the area, I would highly recommend seeing this exhibit. Plus, you’ll be in Williamsburg. There’s lots of historic areas, fantastic restaurants and other places you can visit that will make the trip worth it.
Have a great weekend!