Michelangelo, Public and Private

On loan from the Casa Buonarroti in Florence (which bears the artist's surname), these studies and sketches for the Sistine Chapel amount to a lot of presentation of very little work. The finished ceiling, painted during 1508-12, is what matters; and there's a large photo of the final product. ("The Pope is quite satisfied," Michelangelo wrote to his father.) But the ancillary displays only add so much to a dozen preliminary renderings in charcoal and chalk. It's a little big like rooting around in the wastebasket of an architect to understand the house (but, granted, a genius architect). The funniest, most engaging scrap on display is a shopping list Michelangelo (1475-1564) gave to an illiterate servant, with a rendering of the meal next to his loose cursive. And in a supporting gallery of ancillary work, there's a letter to a nephew, thanking him for the cheese. Artists have to eat, provided the Pope pays them on time. BRIAN MILLER

Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 10 a.m. Starts: Oct. 18. Continues through Jan. 31, 2009

 
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