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I, Michelangelo

By Georgia Illetschko. Prestel, 2004. 160pp. £37

Michelangelo's vestibule to his Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence (pictured) has provoked some memorable writing from architectural historians, not least Nikolaus Pevsner who, in An Outline of European Architecture, says: 'The staircase tells of wilful originality, but the sharpness of detail which he developed in the 1520s is now replaced by a heavy, weary flow as of lava? In Michelangelo's architecture every force seems paralysed.The load does not weigh, the support does not carry - a highly artificial system upheld by the severest discipline.'Georgia Illetschko, author of I, Michelangelo, isn't in such company.Whereas you know for sure that Pevsner stood in this vestibule and analysed his own responses, you can't tell if Illetschko has been there or not.But, as she says when prefacing her select bibliography - from which James Ackerman's The Architecture of Michelangelo is strangely absent - her text 'is not based on new scholarly findings, but on a highly selective synthesis of 500 years of art historical literature on Michelangelo's.

That's done efficiently enough, but the value of the book is in its excellent photographs, often of details, including Michelangelo's principal sculptures and the restored Sistine Chapel ceiling.

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