Michelangelo: Mind of the Master

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents Michelangelo: Mind of the Master, featuring more than 50 drawings by Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti. The exhibition includes masterpieces formerly in the collection of Queen Christina of Sweden (1626–1689) on loan from the Teylers Museum, the Netherlands, many of which have never been shown in the U.S.

The Cleveland Museum of Art hosts a selection of some of the finest and most celebrated drawings by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) in the extraordinary exhibition, “Michelangelo: Mind of the Master.” Organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum in conjunction with the Teylers Museum, Haarlem, the Netherlands, “Michelangelo: Mind of the Master” is on view now at the Cleveland Museum of Art until January 5, 2020 before traveling to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a group of drawings with an illustrious provenance from Queen Christina of Sweden (1626–1689), on loan from the Teylers Museum. The museum is the oldest in the Netherlands, having opened in 1784, and its holdings are unique in the world. This collection of Michelangelo drawings has been in the museum since 1790, and many of them have never been shown outside Europe. This marks the first time the drawings have left the Teylers Museum as a group in nearly 15 years and the first time the group of drawings has come to the U.S. 

 “Michelangelo is widely acknowledged as one of the most talented and influential artists in the history of Western art,” says William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “He was an exceptional draftsman and the up-close study of Michelangelo’s drawings is an unparalleled experience, one that we are delighted to bring to visitors in Cleveland.” 

Drawing was an essential part of Michelangelo’s creative process and arguably no artist has used it more effectively in the expression of the human form. Given that Michelangelo burned large quantities of his drawings, “Michelangelo: Mind of the Master” provides an extraordinary opportunity to examine firsthand a key group of sketches that have survived from the artist’s studio in Rome. Through his drawings, the exhibition explores the range of Michelangelo’s work as a painter, sculptor and architect. 

“This group of drawings encapsulates the various ways Michelangelo drew throughout his long career, from anatomical renderings to sketches for the nude male figures on the Sistine Chapel ceiling to drawings from live models for a sculpture on one of the Medici tombs,” says Emily Peters, CMA curator of prints and drawings. “The Teylers group of Michelangelo drawings is among the best preserved in the world and the red and black chalks used by the artist retain a vibrancy and freshness that allow visitors to really appreciate the immediacy and power of Michelangelo’s thinking on paper.” 

The exhibition comprises, in all, 51 drawings by the master, including those drawn on the reverse of other works on view in the show. 

The introductory gallery, “Drawing in Italy Before Michelangelo,” provides visitors with examples of drawings made in Florence before Michelangelo’s arrival. Artists in the 1400s primarily used pen and ink as well as metalpoint and rarely studied anatomy directly (or for that matter drew nude figures) when planning compositions. This changed markedly around 1500 when Michelangelo came of age. 

Experience “Michelangelo: Mind of the Master” at the Cleveland Museum of Art until January 5, 2020. Tickets: Adults $15; seniors and adult group rate $10; member guests $7; students and children 6–17 $5; children 5 and under and CMA members FREE.