Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

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Vasari made craftsmen into stars

The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99.

TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did not consider them works of art in their own right so much as pictorial scaffolding. They aided the difficult process of deciding what a painting or sculpture would look like when it was finished and demonstrated his very real struggles to achieve aesthetic perfection. By eliminating these drawings he wanted posterity, when thinking of the great Michelangelo, to be confronted with a towering figure of insurmountable genius, one as cold and stiff as the marble he worked with—in short, a man who conjured up the great masterpieces in Western art with minimal effort.

That people can see behind this façade is due to the timely…Continue reading

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