I’ve been having a bit of a personal renaissance in my world, rediscovering many “lost” and forgotten treasures that I actually have at my fingertips. One of them is my ebook collection, and within that are a number of books that I bought like this one. I wasn’t expecting too much at the time, especially for the low price point. The idea was it was something I could call up during a lunch break or something for a bit of inspiration, as great art is prone to do for me. I got far more than I bargained for, and I am duly impressed with this. So glad I bought the rest of the set. The art major in me is highly satisfied.
Back in college, one of the few instructors I respected told me something that stuck with me. He said, “Looking at pictures in a book or projections on a screen is not the best way to study art.” And he’s not wrong. To truly appreciate a given work, you must learn about the artist and his circumstances, and you must go to where the work is displayed and see it as up close and personal as you can. With Michelangelo, I got a first hand lesson right here in my area as his The Torment of St. Anthony is on display in Fort Worth at the Kimbell Art Museum, one of my favorite haunts. At the same time, though… while the Kimbell is local and their permanent collection is free to visitors, I also recognize that I am not made of money, and I can ill afford to go traveling the world to see the great works of the masters. Italy? France? England? I’d love to, don’t get me wrong, but today’s not the day, and tomorrow’s not looking good either. And that’s where books and reproductions come into play.
I often prefer print books over digital. There’s something about having a personal library and being able to peruse the shelves, about having a book in your hands and smelling the paper. But… I made the discovery that ebooks are the absolute best way to reproduce art like this if it must be done at all. It’s cost effective (most printed books of this kind run anywhere from $20 to $250), the backlit screen means there are no weird shadows or lighting anomalies to distort the images, and you can cram in a lot of works into one place. In short, it’s ideal for the student on the go or for the armchair historian like myself that would otherwise spend fortunes and run out of shelf space in short order. Besides, have you ever tried to read one of those large art books? It’s called a coffee table book for a reason. It’s not exactly lounge chair material. The older I get, the more unwieldy these tomes become.
This particular series, if this book is anything to judge by, is superb for what it offers. Each work has a brief written history, a full screen image, and a handful of images that capture enlarged details. Michelangelo, being one of the great juggernauts of the Italian Renaissance, worked in a variety of media, all of which are showcased here in high resolution. There are paintings, sculptures, architecture, and drawings. And for those of you who are really wanting to go down the rabbit hole as I do, his sonnets are printed here as well. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more complete overview of the man and his work anywhere, let alone for under $3. Content + quality + value = massive win.