The Life and The Work: The Artist as a Cultural Ideal from Michelangelo to Picasso

Theatre 2, Roland Levinksy Building, Plymouth University

01752 585050

Tuesday 25 October 2016
Admission Fee: 6/4.20

The idea of ‘the artist’ as an identifiable social type has its roots in the Italian Renaissance, when it first took shape in Giorgio Vasari’s classic text, The Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (Florence, 1568).  

Vasari’s colourful biographies of Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and others had enormous influence on later artists, from the French Romantics to Cézanne and Picasso. So too, did Vasari’s notion of the ideal artist – godlike, brilliant, preoccupied with matters beyond the mortal ken and, above all, driven by an insatiable appetite for art, for life, for love – cross over into fiction and biography.  

From Frenhofer, Balzac’s obsessive-compulsive artist in The Unknown Masterpiece (1831), whose work is so original it disappears from the canvas, to the Modernist machismo of ‘the life and the work’ model still colouring our perception of Cézanne, Picasso or Jackson Pollock, join Dr Jenny Graham for an exploration of artistic genius in cultural history.

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