Slide

Michelangelo:the last decades
米開朗琪羅:最後幾十年

The British Museum, in assembling drawings and letters from the last thirty years of Michelangelo’s life have provide insights into his aesthetic development over this duration. As a devout Catholic, he is presented to be increasingly pre-occupied with the state of his own soul and it is the medium of drawing that is most intimately employed to present this. The question that might be asked then is this passage also a sign of a late style within his production of work or is his meditations on his physical demise aligned to consciousness of approaching death to be more simply understood as being outside of broader historical or stylistic changes that he was witness to. In art historical terms this marked the transition from the High Renaissance and the advent of Mannerism. Stylistically this shift was marked by exaggeration, which is one of the general features of late style. There is the sense though that he was not overly preoccupied by this, as much as by the destination that is surplus and thus independent to it.

More than any other feature, there is certainly a quality of solemnity in many of these drawings exhibited, particularly of the crucifix drawings, which appear to be distinguished from drawings undertaken as preparatory works. With this the drawings are cast adrift from a transitional status, into works that discover their object of attention within the interiority of the artist. Connected to this change of sense, the drawings themselves become subject to repetitions and refiguration which might be also a sign of fixation or even obsession. In such a process of designation, we become witness to a constellation through which something is seen to endure in the form of a circulation around the figures of suffering and death. The body becomes a sign onto which destination is etched into, so the inscription process (drawing) is also the consciousness of marking out lived experience. This in turn erases aesthetic distance to become instead a form of exposure to the conditions that are marked by this process of erasure. The idea of how to portray the body within the drawing process was also complemented by the practice of the cutting of the body within anatomical practices. Life and death were thus connected between what can be drawn and that which can be cut into. This implied a materialisation of this relationship that started to transform the discourse of death within European culture.

The staging of the crucifixion drawings within a black, darkened, circular space serves to figure a doubled over fold within these works, because they stage not only a sequence of successive drawings, but they figure an arrest of this succession. In this they are cast adrift into a space of dissolution outside of historical progression (transhistorical), becoming instead a meditation on ending itself. The figure of history is dispensed with and instead a space of theological is constituted in an act of replacing determination and progression with the erasure of the end. Rather than being viewed as a space of regression, this space of presentation stages a disavowal of the work of art being an object of knowledge. It is beyond representation and therefore autotelic. Michelangelo is an artist who is related to the idea of being an agency for the act of service who pushed his art beyond the designs of those who generated the commission. Genius can be said to be that which is able to go beyond what is given, with one who is able to generate forms beyond what is given. In short, genius is attached to the autotelic.

大英博物館搜集了米開朗琪羅這位藝術家生命中最後三十年的繪畫和書信,從中我們得以洞悉他在這段時期的美學發展。身為一名虔誠的天主教徒,他逐漸專注於自己靈魂的狀態,並通過繪畫這一媒介來表達這種關注。因此,我們可能會問,這是否意味著他作品中晚期風格的形成,或者他對生命終結的思考僅是面對死亡的一種自我意識,與他所經歷的更廣泛的歷史或風格變化無關。從藝術史的角度來看,這標誌著從高文藝復興時期過渡到風格主義的開始。這一轉變在風格上表現為誇張,這是晚期風格的常見特徵。然而,看似他並未過分關注這一轉變,而是更加專注於超越這些外在因素的更高目標。

在展出的許多作品中,尤其是十字架繪畫,這些作品無疑展示了一種莊嚴的氛圍,與一般的預備性繪畫有所不同。因此,這些繪畫擺脫了過渡性的角色,成為了探索藝術家內心世界的作品。隨著這種變化,繪畫本身也開始重複和重新構造,這可能是固定思考甚至是迷戀的表現。在這個過程中,我們成為了見證苦難和死亡形象持續存在的星座的一部分。身體在這裡成為了一種符號,生活經驗的標記(繪畫)變成了這一過程的意識。這反過來又消除了美學距離,取而代之的是直面那些被刻畫的條件的狀態。關於如何在繪畫過程中描繪身體,解剖實踐中的切割行為也提供了一種補充。生與死在這裡不僅是可繪製的和可切割的之間的聯繫,還暗示了這種關係的物質化,開始改變歐洲文化中對死亡的論述。

在一個黑暗、圓形的空間中布置的十字架繪畫,不僅展示了一系列連續的作品,而且象徵著這種連續性的中止。在這樣的表現中,作品被置於一個與歷史進程無關的消解空間(跨歷史的),變成對結束本身的沉思。歷史的概念被放棄,取而代之的是一個以抹消結局為目的神學空間。這樣的展示空間不是一個倒退的場所,而是一個拒絕將藝術作品視為知識對象的場所。因此,它超越了表象,成為自足的存在。米開朗基羅被看作是一個超越委託者設計的藝術服務者。所謂的天才,就是能夠超越既定條件,創造出超越既定形式的人。簡而言之,天才與自我完成有關。

 

Michelangelo:the last decades
British Museum
2 May – 28 July 2024

 

 

Text by Jonathan Miles

                   

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