Cloth $65.00 ISBN: 9780226482576 Published November 2018
E-book $10.00 to $65.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226482606 Published November 2018 Also Available From
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Michelangelo’s Sculpture

Selected Essays

Leo Steinberg

Michelangelo’s Sculpture

Leo Steinberg

Edited by Sheila Schwartz
With an Introduction by Richard Neer
320 pages | 121 color plates, 127 halftones | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2018
Cloth $65.00 ISBN: 9780226482576 Published November 2018
E-book $10.00 to $65.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226482606 Published November 2018
Leo Steinberg was one of the most original and daring art historians of the twentieth century, known for taking interpretative risks that challenged the profession by overturning reigning orthodoxies. In essays and lectures that ranged from old masters to contemporary art, he combined scholarly erudition with an eloquent prose that illuminated his subject and a credo that privileged the visual evidence of the image over the literature written about it. His works, sometimes provocative and controversial, remain vital and influential reading.
For half a century, Steinberg delved into Michelangelo’s work, revealing the symbolic structures underlying the artist’s highly charged idiom. This volume of essays and unpublished lectures explicates many of Michelangelo’s most celebrated sculptures, applying principles gleaned from long, hard looking. Almost everything Steinberg wrote included passages of old-fashioned formal analysis, but here put to the service of interpretation. He understood that Michelangelo’s rendering of figures as well as their gestures and interrelations conveys an emblematic significance masquerading under the guise of naturalism. Michelangelo pushed Renaissance naturalism into the furthest reaches of metaphor, using the language of the body and its actions to express fundamental Christian tenets once expressible only by poets and preachers—or, as Steinberg put it, in Michelangelo’s art, “anatomy becomes theology.”
Michelangelo’s Sculpture is the first in a series of volumes of Steinberg’s selected writings and unpublished lectures, edited by his longtime associate Sheila Schwartz. The volume also includes a book review debunking psychoanalytic interpretation of the master’s work, a light-hearted look at Michelangelo and the medical profession and, finally, the shortest piece Steinberg ever published.

The second in the five-volume series, each containing approximately 250 reproductions, half of them in color,is Michelangelo’s Painting: /ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo27801939.html. The third volume represents other old masters, among them Filippo Lippi, Mantegna, Pontormo, Caravaggio, Guercino, and Velázquez as well as lectures on the primacy of images in art historical methodology. The fourth volume will be devoted to Steinberg’s extensive work on Picasso, including Steinberg's acclaimed but unpublished lectures. Other modern masters— Cézanne, Monet, Max Ernst, Hans Haacke, Rauschenberg—are the subject of the final volume, which also presents the texts of lectures on artists’ portrayals of their wives and “Art Minus Criticism Equals Art.” The series assembles the most significant of Steinberg’s wide-ranging and challenging art historical interpretations, until now only available in diverse journals and catalog with black-and-white reproductions.
Preface and Acknowledgments, Sheila Schwartz
Introduction, Richard Neer

1. The Metaphors of Love and Birth in Michelangelo’s Pietàs
2. The Roman Pietà: Michelangelo at Twenty-Three
3. Michelangelo’s Medici Madonna and Related Works
4. Body and Symbol in the Medici Madonna
5. Michelangelo’s Florentine Pietà: The Missing Leg Twenty Years After
6. The Michelangelo Next Door
7. Shrinking Michelangelo
8. Michelangelo and the Doctors
9. What Would You Ask Michelangelo?
Leo Steinberg: Chronology
Leo Steinberg: Publications (1947–2010)
Photography Credits
Review Quotes
Eric Gibson | New Criterion
"Steinberg returns the act of looking to center stage, insisting on it as the primary, indispensable instrument for understanding works of art. In an intellectual climate that holds that reading—critical theory—is the only true path to wisdom, the return of Leo Steinberg’s singular eye and mind could not be more timely or necessary."
"This book is the first in a series of five volumes in the 'Essays by Leo Steinberg' series, which will offer selected treasures, some obscure, revealing the unique erudition and insight of the late Steinberg (1920–2011). Steinberg was one of the most important art historians of his generation, but not everything he wrote made it into print before his death. The present volume makes available not only Steinberg's published essays and their subsequent revisions but also unpublished lectures, a review, and other revealing addenda to his life and legacy. The essays focus on Michelangelo’s sculpture . . . but also included and important are Steinberg's writings about his method of looking at and writing about art. Schwartz's preface, an introduction by art historian Richard Neer (Univ. of Chicago), and a lengthy chronology help make the man just as fascinating as his writings, here listed in a comprehensive bibliography. Schwartz has produced a respectful and erudite trove for all students and scholars interested in art. These writings, and those in forthcoming volumes in the series . . . will have inestimable value for anyone willing to take the rewarding plunge into Steinberg’s mind. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended."
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