Michelangelo & Creative Disappointment at the AGO to January 11, 2015

Michelangelo never intended his sketches to be put on display, but 30 of them appear here with a steroidal curatorial heft: the theme is creative disappointment. This is an enlightening and peculiar lens through which to view a master. It's also disappointing itself, since it implies that the best way to get modern audiences to relate to a long-dead genius is to show his biggest flops. He's just like us! Big dreams collecting dust! The curators must have felt this sense of smallness too, otherwise why the random addition of a couple Rodin nods? 

And yet it does work, on the level of enrichment; Michelangelo's activity as an architect of military fortifications isn't well-known outside of academia. One leaves the exhibit having learned the breadth of his artistic practice and having a larger sense of his devotion to creating art, so much of which never came to fruition. Here are all the projects he thought up and worked on, all for nothing.
It's also mildly breathtaking to behold hand drawn sketches that have lasted for over 400 years.

Compared to the magnificent, exhaustive Colville show next door (admission is the same price to both - whoever is pricing these shows needs a performance review) the Michelangelo exhibit is overpriced. And again the viewer is dragged along by an overbearing curatorial presence, this time with such insistence it's embarrassing. Do we need to link Colville to Wes Anderson to prove he's still relevant? Do we need sound art 'modern responses' to Colville to celebrate his importance? I say no.