By Asher Biemann
Dreaming of Michelangelo is the 1st book-length examine to discover the highbrow and cultural affinities among sleek Judaism and the lifestyles and paintings of Michelangelo Buonarroti. It argues that Jewish intellectuals stumbled on themselves within the picture of Michelangelo as an "unrequited lover" whose paintings expressed loneliness and a eager for humanity's reaction. the fashionable Jewish mind's eye therefore turned consciously idolatrous. Writers dropped at life—literally—Michelangelo's sculptures, seeing in them their very own worldly and emotional struggles. The Moses statue particularly grew to become an archetype of Jewish liberation politics in addition to a imperative concentration of Jewish aesthetics. And such affinities prolonged past sculpture: Jewish viewers to the Sistine Chapel reinterpreted the ceiling as a manifesto of prophetic socialism, without its Christian components. in keeping with Biemann, the phenomenon of Jewish self-recognition in Michelangelo's paintings provided an alternative choice to the failed can provide of the German enlightenment. via this unforeseen discovery, he rethinks German Jewish historical past and its connections to Italy, the Mediterranean, and the artwork of the Renaissance.
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Extra info for Dreaming of Michelangelo: Jewish Variations on a Modern Theme
Man with outstretched arms and hands having only four fingers. The man is depicted with far less care and detail than either animal, but the painter made the hunter’s gender explicit by the prominent penis. The position of the man is ambiguous. Is he wounded or dead or merely tilted back and unharmed? ) with the bird on top and the spear belong to him? Is it he or the rhinoceros that has gravely wounded the bison—or neither? Which animal, if either, has knocked the man down, if indeed he is on the ground?
The horse has been a symbol of power and wealth in many societies from prehistory to the present. That the Benin king is disproportionately larger than his horse, contrary to nature, further aggrandizes him. Two large attendants fan the king. Other figures of smaller size and lower status at the Benin court stand on the king’s left and right and in the plaque’s upper corners. One tiny figure next to the horse is almost hidden from view beneath the king’s feet. One problem students of art history—and professional art historians too—confront when studying illustrations in art history books is that although the relative sizes of figures and objects in a painting or sculpture are easy to discern, it is impossible to determine the absolute size of the work reproduced because they all appear at approximately the same size on the page.
Humans began to domesticate plants and animals and settle in fixed abodes. Their food supply assured, many groups changed from hunters to herders, to farmers, and finally to townspeople. Wandering hunters settled down to organized community living in villages surrounded by cultivated fields. The new sedentary societies of the Neolithic age originated systematic agriculture, weaving, metalworking, pottery, and counting and recording with tokens, and constructed religious shrines as well as homes.