Art November 1985
Michelangelo and the Quattrocento
On the dialogue between Michelangelo and his contemporaries.
That ancient division between classical and romantic art, which has usually served to reveal by which forces works of art are created, or else to describe formal and spiritual dimensions in those works once they exist, might also be invoked, in the case of great art, to characterize the nature of its influence upon succeeding generations. Nowhere in all of art is this more true than in the case of Michelangelo and Raphael, since both men have had an incalculable effect upon posterity, although the nature and basis of their respective influence have differed considerably. To speak in blunt and imperfect generalities, there is a sense in which, if Raphael had never existed, another artist could well have emerged, even if only after several generations, capable of bringing painting to that same perfection of which Raphael has been and will always be the paragon. The idea of progress in art, as a criterion of excellence, was...
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