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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

cover of The Agony and the Ecstasy

The story of Michelangelo Buonarroti, the Italian artist who created the "David" and painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. His life was more interesting and complicated than most people, which is probably a very good thing. Michelangelo is born to a father who wants him to work hard to earn money for the family, but all he wants to do is sculpt. He is from Florence, a city that celebrates artists and art, which turns out to be a huge blessing to him. Michelangelo, with his ability to create beautiful art, ends up serving under a number of Popes (three or four, at least), and having relationships with them that the average person wouldn't dream of (i.e. he sought to ask for what he needed and challenge what was expected of him and his art). This book shares not only about the life of one man, but also about the way his society worked, some of the other major players during his time, and his culture.

Stone does a good job of portraying the life of an artist. Michelangelo does art not because it can make money for him, but because he has to -- because it comes from inside him and is his best way to relate to the world and to convey truth and ideas. Since I too enjoy art (although in no way would I compare myself to this artist!), it was enjoyable to read this book and be reminded that art is something good for the world and for those who do it. That art can communicate and express when it comes from inside. It was inspiring and encouraging .. in the direction of actually pulling out art supplies and getting to work. Or to play. Or to expression. Or to practice, at least!

Title:The Agony and the Ecstasy
Author: Irving Stone
Date published:1961
Genre: Biography
Number of pages: 758

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