Online Exhibition

Visualizing the Invisible in Michelangelo's Drawings at Casa Buonarroti

An online exhibition by the Photo Library of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut

Visualizing the invisible: with this exhibition we attempt to give form to some drawings by Michelangelo that are difficult to see in photography and even with the naked eye, at the same time emphasizing Michelangelo's capacity to envisage the form before having traced it on the sheet.

But paper sheets have a good memory. They record the changes that have occurred and reveal their history. They occupy a physical space where they record gestures and manipulations. They leave traces that a patient eye still manages to discover. Michelangelo was open to the versatile nature of paper, recognizing that the daily use of the sheet and the marks made on it in various ways could become a source of inspiration for the creative process and a source of enrichment of his inventions.

The drawings selected here are part of a series of sheets over which scholars have long grappled with and many of them appear in the "indecipherable sketches" section of the catalogue of drawings from the Casa Buonarroti edited by Paola Barocchi in 1962-1964. The high resolution digital reproductions of the sheets are followed each time by Mauro Mussolin's reconstruction proposals and, where possible, the verso and backlit images. This new photographic campaign was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Fondazione Casa Buonarroti and the fundamental technical support of the Visual Arts Laboratory of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, which sponsored the event to enrich its Archive of non-invasive analyses. The Photo Library of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is pleased to host an exhibition that highlights the potential of digital photography for research and at the same time stresses the importance of the materiality of paper – whether it be drawing paper or the paper of photographic positives.

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