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William Wallace on Panofsky on Michelangelo

6 September 2020

Michelangelo’s principles or Panofsky’s?

Review of:

Michelangelo’s Design Principles, Particularly in Relation to Those of Raphael by Erwin Panofsky, edited by Gerda Panofsky, translated by Joseph Spooner, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2020, ISBN 978-0-691-6526-4

William E. Wallace (Washington University in St. Louis) 23/WW1

Abstract: The discovery in 2012 of Erwin Panofsky’s Habilitation thesis on Michelangelo is just short of sensational.  The thesis, written for the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Hamburg in 1919-20, ambitiously sets out to define the fundamental design principles of Michelangelo’s art, especially as they can be articulated in contradistinction to the art of Raphael.  The thesis, published in a luxurious facsimile German edition in 2014, now appears in an English translation permitting Anglo-Saxon readers the welcome opportunity to observe the maturing of one of the great figures of Art and Intellectual History.

Keywords: cubic thinking/constraint, design principles, Habilitationsschrift, Habilitation thesis, Michelangelo, Erwin Panofsky, Gerda Panofsky, plane/planar nature

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