Michelangelos Inner Anatomies

By (author) Christian K. Kleinbub

Hardback - £79.95

Publication date:

31 January 2020

Length of book:

260 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271083780

This book challenges the notion that Michelangelo, renowned for his magnificent portrayals of the human body, was merely concerned with “superficial” anatomy—that is, the parts of the body that can be seen from the outside. Christian K. Kleinbub provides a fresh perspective on Michelangelo’s art of the human figure by investigating what he calls the artist’s “inner anatomical poetics,” revealing these beautiful bodies as objects of profound intellectual and spiritual significance.

Michelangelo’s Inner Anatomies illuminates how Renaissance discourses on anatomical organs and organ systems informed Michelangelo's figures, linking the interior experiences of his subjects to physiological processes associated with sex, love, devotion, and contemplation, among other thoughts and feelings. Kleinbub presents new and compelling interpretations of some of Michelangelo’s most significant works of painting, sculpture, poetry, and architecture. The book’s case studies cover the full range of Michelangelo’s prodigious output—including such iconic works as the Sistine Ceiling, Dying Slave, and Last Judgment—and reconstructs what Michelangelo knew of internal anatomy and how he projected that knowledge into his most important works. Drawing upon theological, poetic, philosophical, and scientific texts, Michelangelo created a context-dependent, adaptable practice that could be adjusted according to the needs of an individual situation or commission and manipulated to embody, literally and figuratively, a variety of meanings.

Deeply researched and convincingly argued, this study heralds a significant shift in thinking about the Italian Renaissance body as it pertains not only to the work of Michelangelo but also to the era as a whole.

Michelangelo’s Inner Anatomies offers an entirely fresh perspective on Michelangelo, the Renaissance’s most original thinker on the human body. By amassing a wealth of often little-known contemporary sources combined with a new way of looking at Michelangelo’s art, Kleinbub makes us reconsider what the human body meant to Michelangelo and his public—and to us. This book is a must-read for everyone interested in early modern art, poetry, and medicine.”

—Joost Keizer, author of The Realism of Piero della Francesca