Genius of Michelangelo

Course No. 7130
Professor William E. Wallace, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis
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Course No. 7130
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Course Overview

The Sistine Chapel ceiling. The Pietà. The David. The Last Judgment. The Moses. The Dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo's artistic achievements, in their scope and execution, seem unimaginable. His brilliance is apparent in every medium he worked in and with every tool he used. Today, more than 500 years after his unique artistry burst forth on the Renaissance world, the breadth and depth of his accomplishments still confound our attempts to grasp their full importance.

How much do we really know about Michelangelo? Conflicting viewpoints and much confusion surround many aspects of the Renaissance artist's life and art; myth and legend so envelop him that he sometimes seems more like a caricature than a complete human being. Despite a familiarity with some of his works, aspects of Michelangelo's art and life remain open to interpretation. For example:

  • Was he, in fact, difficult to work with?
  • Why did he fall out of favor with art critics until the 18th century?
  • Did he work alone or with assistants?
  • What was the significance of his name, his birthplace, and his religious beliefs?

In The Genius of Michelangelo, internationally recognized Michelangelo expert and award-winning Professor of Art History William E. Wallace gives you a comprehensive perspective on one of history's greatest artists, unavailable in any other course. Drawing on a vast command of artistic knowledge and period detail, these 36 intellectually rewarding and visually dazzling lectures explore the relationship between truth and legend to reveal a groundbreaking new picture of Michelangelo as an artist, a businessman, an aristocrat, and a genius.

Rediscover a Master

Living nearly 89 years (twice as long as most of his contemporaries), Michelangelo Buonarroti's career spanned the glories of Renaissance Florence, the discovery of the New World, the Reformation and the stirrings of the Counter-Reformation, and the pontificates of 13 popes—9 of whom employed him at some point.

"Few artists have achieved as much as Michelangelo in so many diverse endeavors," notes Professor Wallace. "Few so completely embody our very notion of genius."

Arranged as a chronological survey of the artist's life, The Genius of Michelangelo presents a thorough understanding of Michelangelo's life and work, informed by a broad consideration of the artist and his times, as well as the specific circumstances and contexts in which he crafted his art. As you follow Michelangelo's rise, you learn to separate fact from fiction and to penetrate the myths that have long hampered a complete understanding of this unforgettable artist.

"We cannot help but wonder at the humanity, tenacity, and awe-inspiring accomplishments of such a man," remarks Professor Wallace. "Although deeply human and sometimes vulnerable, Michelangelo rose above mundane circumstances and employed his incomparable gifts and transcendent genius to create sublime works of art, for the world and for all time."

New Insights, Fascinating Stories

"The truth," notes Professor Wallace, "is that we are less likely to discover new works of Michelangelo but rather to discover new things about him." Throughout the course, you discover new insights about aspects of Michelangelo's formative years:

  • Born into a patrician family, Michelangelo spent his youth in the town of Settignano, a village of craftsmen in the stone trade whom he would later hire and use as his assistants.
  • By the time he was 12, Michelangelo was apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, one of the great Renaissance masters and the greatest artist in Florence.
  • At age 15, Michelangelo was brought by Lorenzo de' Medici into the Medici household, where he was educated alongside two Medici princes and future popes.

You also explore fascinating stories behind the creation of Michelangelo's most beloved works, all of which give you new vantage points from which to see this genius's personality at work:

  • The Pietà: Michelangelo insisted on traveling to the marble quarry himself to supervise the extraction of the marble block for this project, which is unusual considering the great number of places he could have purchased readily quarried marble in Rome. Off and on, he spent a total of four years of his life in marble quarries, supervising the extraction of marble for his favorite artistic medium: sculpture.
  • The David: Originally intended as a buttress for the Florentine Cathedral, its magnificence compelled the civic government to place it at Florence's very heart: the Piazza della Signoria. Shifting the statue from its expected religious context was the start of our modern conception of art, with an increasing burden of responsibility placed on the viewer to interpret a work's meaning.
  • The Sistine Chapel ceiling: Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint the 12 apostles, but he successfully lobbied for a much grander and more complex scheme that illustrated major scenes from the book of Genesis, including the now-iconic scene of God bestowing Adam with life. The project was completed in four years.

A Well-Documented History

Michelangelo's work is among the most well documented and well preserved in the history of art; the bulk of his output in sculpture, painting, and architecture survives to this day. The Genius of Michelangelo draws on the master's works, as well as a wealth of additional documentation that survives, to help reconstruct the details of Michelangelo's life:

  • Nearly 1,400 letters in which more than 1,100 persons are named, creating a veritable cross-section of 16th-century society
  • More than 600 drawings, even though Michelangelo burned many of them toward the end of his life
  • Some 300 poems that he wrote, reflecting the artist's talent not just as a painter and sculptor but as a poet as well
  • Some 300 pages of miscellaneous records
  • Two biographies written during Michelangelo's lifetime that serve as testaments to his contemporary fame

A Passionate, Knowledgeable Instructor

The author of numerous books on Michelangelo, Professor Wallace has been enchanted by the Renaissance artist since a visit to St. Peter's Basilica as an undergraduate student, where he encountered the marvels of the Pietà, the Moses, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling for the first time.

His passion and knowledge of Michelangelo and his works earned him an invitation by the Vatican in 1990 to confer about the conservation of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. In addition, Professor Wallace appeared in the BBC film The Private Life of a Masterpiece: Michelangelo's David, and served as the principal consultant for the BBC film The Divine Michelangelo.

Professor Wallace puts his teaching skills on display throughout these lectures, which feature more than 800 visuals, including stunning reproductions of Michelangelo's sculptures, paintings, and architecture, as well as rough sketches, preparatory drawings, and photographs of the places he lived and worked.

The Genius of Michelangelo, infused with the passion and knowledge of an expert instructor, enriches your appreciation of Michelangelo's many accomplishments and enhances your understanding of one of the world's greatest and most familiar artists.

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36 lectures
 |  Average 29 minutes each
  • 1
    Who Was Michelangelo?
    Michelangelo is a highly mythologized figure. This lecture begins to peel away much of the fiction that surrounds him, enabling us to approach the truth about the man, his art, and his prodigious impact on the history of art. x
  • 2
    Artist and Aristocrat—Michelangelo's World
    This lecture discusses the places and people of Michelangelo's world, establishing a "mental geography" and genealogy—in essence, a capsule history of the artist—that can serve as a framework for the course. x
  • 3
    An Unconventional Beginning
    Why, when, and how did Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni become an artist? We start by examining the family connections that gave the young Michelangelo such privileged access—first to the shop of Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and then to the household of Lorenzo de' Medici himself. x
  • 4
    Michelangelo's Youth and Early Training
    We consider how Michelangelo's two years in the privileged environment of the Medici retarded his artistic "career" but furthered his connections among the social elite who would become his patrons before introducing his first works in marble. x
  • 5
    Florence and Bologna in the Early 1490s
    The death of Lorenzo de' Medici leaves Michelangelo with neither a patron nor a means of support. We follow him to Flor­ence, where he begins his serious study of anatomy, and then to Bologna, where his work for the Sienese sculptor Jacopo della Quercia furthers his artistic maturation. x
  • 6
    First Visit to Rome and Early Patrons
    This lecture recreates Michelangelo's earliest impressions of the Eternal City—his first extensive exposure to the art of the Classical past—and introduces Cardinal Raffaelle Riario and the marble sculpture he commissions from Michelangelo, the Bacchus. x
  • 7
    The Bacchus and the Pietà
    We look at the two principal works—the Bacchus and the Pietà—carved by Michelangelo during his first sojourn in Rome. These two works represent contrasting currents that consistently run through Michelangelo's art: his interest in pagan antiquity and his profound commitment to the Christian faith. x
  • 8
    The Return to Florence and the David
    After first looking at the commission that brings about Michelangelo's return to Florence—the Piccolomini altar—we turn to the history of the David, examining what Michelangelo achieved in extracting that magnificent figure from what was considered a ruined block of marble. x
  • 9
    The David and St. Matthew
    We continue our discussion of the David—including the implications of the city's decision to move it from its cathedral setting to Florence's very heart, the Piazza della Signoria—before turning to his commission to carve 12 apostles, only one of which, the St. Matthew, was ever begun. x
  • 10
    For the Republic—The Battle of Cascina
    We take up one of Michelangelo's most important, although never executed, commissions, the Battle of Cascina, a giant fresco intended for the Florentine Hall of State in direct competition with a work by Leonardo da Vinci—whose own fresco was also never completed—before turning to Michelangelo's Bruges Madonna. x
  • 11
    The Taddei Tondo and the Pitti Tondo
    Between 1501 and 1507, an ambition-driven Michelangelo achieved both astonishing success and equally astonishing productivity, appearing to refuse no one. His commissions included the round compositions known as tondi, executed in both marble and paint, and we introduce three of these unique and surprising works. x
  • 12
    The Doni Tondo
    We continue our examination of the Doni Tondo introduced in the previous lecture, the only painting in tempera ever created by Michelangelo and one of the greatest treasures of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. x
  • 13
    Rome and the Tomb of Julius II
    This lecture introduces one of Michelangelo's most steadfast patrons, Julius II, as well as the ambitious project they conceived together. The Julius Tomb would have a 40-year history; it was a project that dogged Michelangelo for much of his life. x
  • 14
    Bologna and the Return to Rome
    We discuss the tumultuous relationship and rift between Michelangelo and Julius II and the monumental bronze statue of the pope he was directed to carve in penance—a prelude to the even greater penance that lay ahead: the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. x
  • 15
    The Sistine Chapel
    This lecture looks at the overall organization of one of our greatest works of art. We examine the halting beginning, the earliest narratives, and the emergence of a masterpiece: the visualization of the book of Genesis for all Western Christianity. x
  • 16
    The Sistine Chapel, Part 2
    We continue an examination of the major narratives of the ceiling's central spine—especially the Creation of Adam, Creation of the Sun and the Moon, and Separation of Light and Dark—before taking up a discussion of the ceiling's other decorations, beginning with the Prophets and Sibyls. x
  • 17
    The Sistine Chapel, Part 3
    We conclude our discussion by looking at the Prophets and Sibyls and the well-known, but little understood male youths, or ignudi, before concluding with the lunettes and a final consideration of the Sistine Ceiling as a magnificent whole. x
  • 18
    A Story of Marble
    In looking at the three years Michelangelo devotes to an unrealized commission to create an all-marble façade for the Medici church of San Lorenzo, we follow him to the quarries themselves, examining the effort required to extract tons of marble and transport it to Florence. x
  • 19
    The Medici Chapel Sculpture
    With more than 300 people assisting him on two large and simultaneous Medici projects—the Medici Chapel and Laurentian Library—Michelangelo proves that he is an effective business manager as well as something of an entrepreneur. x
  • 20
    The Medici Chapel Sculpture, Part 2
    The Medici Chapel is the first realization of Michelangelo's longstanding ambition to combine architecture, painting, and sculpture. Although the painting campaign was aborted, and the sculpture only a fraction of his original intentions, the ensemble is satisfying, complex, and one of his foremost masterpieces. x
  • 21
    The Medici Chapel Sculpture, Part 3
    Continuing a focus on some of the difficulties of marble carving, we look at the profound challenge Michelangelo faced in carving figures essentially at eye level, with no opportunity to view them at the much higher level at which they would ultimately be placed. x
  • 22
    The Laurentian Library
    While working on the Medici Chapel, Pope Clement VII asks Michelangelo to also design a library at San Lorenzo. We focus on that library, including the magnificent staircase that leads to its entrance, and briefly consider a number of simultaneous projects also undertaken during an incredibly busy period. x
  • 23
    Florence—A Republic under Siege, 1527–34
    In a little-known episode of his life, Michelangelo devotes himself to the defense of Florentine liberty. We examine his long-lasting contribution to fortification design and military science before considering a series of sculpted and painted works undertaken after the war, including the David/Apollo marble sculpture and the painting of Leda. x
  • 24
    Inventing a New Aesthetic—The Non-Finito
    This lecture considers some of the greatest of Michelangelo's unfinished works—including the four Slaves or Prisoners in the Accademia Gallery—and considers the possibility of his increasing interest in intentional incompletion: a genuine exploration of the idea of the non-finito as a new aesthetic. x
  • 25
    Michelangelo's Drawings, 1520–40
    We look at a remarkable series of drawings Michelangelo makes for his closest friends that will revolutionize attitudes toward drawings—making them a medium to collect and treasure—before introducing the great work that would occupy him for nearly six years: the Last Judgment. x
  • 26
    The Last Judgment
    The fresco of the Last Judg­ment in the Sis­tine Chapel is Michelangelo's first great work for Pope Paul. More than 20 years after com­plet­ing the chap­el's ceiling, Michel­angelo again finds him­self painting a monumen­tal work at the heart of Christendom and papal au­th­or­ity, a vision of enormous scale and power. x
  • 27
    The Last Judgment, Part 2
    The individual figures and details of the Last Judgment demonstrate Michelangelo's great inventive capacity but also reveal the unconventional nature and multiple meanings of the gigantic fresco. The work's reception was not always positive, reflecting a controversy about the number and appropriateness of the artist's nudes. x
  • 28
    The Pauline Chapel
    The frescos of the Conversion of Saul and the Crucifixion of Peter in the so-called Pauline Chapel, begun for Pope Paul III immediately after completing the Last Judgment, will be Michelangelo's final paintings. x
  • 29
    The Completion of the Julius Tomb; Poetry
    This lecture brings to a close the long, convoluted history of this compromised but still magnificent monument—completed only after 40 years of delays and re­negotiated contracts—and considers Michel­angelo's deep friendship with Vit­toria Colonna, to whom he presented some exquisite drawings and many poems. x
  • 30
    The Capitoline Hill Projects; the Brutus
    In some ways, architecture occupied most of Michelangelo's creative energies in his last decades. This lecture begins a consideration of his many architectural contributions to Rome, including the transformation of the Capitoline Hill, or Campidoglio, before turning to one of his final sculptures, the bust Brutus. x
  • 31
    The New St. Peter's Basilica
    This lecture is devoted to Christendom's finest monument and one of Michelangelo's most successful architectural achievements—the design of a new St. Peter's—undertaken in 1546 after nearly 30 years of ill-designed accretions. It would remain a constant concern for the rest of his life. x
  • 32
    Michelangelo's Roman Architecture
    In the first of two lectures devoted to Michelangelo's architectural projects for Rome, we consider his additions and "corrections" to the Farnese Palace and his innovative drawings for the new church of the Florentine nation in Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini. Although the church was never built, Michelangelo's drawings vividly demonstrate his inventive, "sculptural" conception of architectural space. x
  • 33
    Michelangelo's Roman Architecture, Part 2
    We conclude our look at Michelangelo's architectural legacy to Rome with his innovative gate to the city, the Porta Pia; his transformation of a pagan place of leisure, the partially ruined baths of Caracalla, into a Christian church; and the more modest chapel he designed for the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. x
  • 34
    Piety and Pity—The Florentine Pietà
    We focus on a single sculpture and singular work of art: the Florentine Pietà, which Michelangelo carved to be his own grave marker. It is an intensely personal work of art, made not on commission, but for himself; an artist's last will and testament. x
  • 35
    The Rondanini Pietà and the Late Poetry
    This lecture considers Michelangelo's final works. They include the Rondanini Pietà—which he worked on until a few days before dying—and a series of drawings of the Crucifixion, through which he revealed his most private thoughts and prayers and prepared himself for death. x
  • 36
    Death of Michelangelo—The Master's Legacy
    In this lecture, we review Michelangelo's last two decades, summing up where his life and goals stood as he approached death, before going on to those final days and our attempt to come to grips with the meaning and legacy of this extraordinary life. x

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  • 272-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

William E. Wallace

About Your Professor

William E. Wallace, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis
Dr. William E. Wallace is the Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History at Washington University in St. Louis, where he has taught since 1983. He earned his B.A. from Dickinson College, his M.A. from the University of Illinois, and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has written more than 80 essays on Renaissance art and four books on Michelangelo, including Michelangelo at San Lorenzo: The Genius as...
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Reviews

Genius of Michelangelo is rated 5.0 out of 5 by 74.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from MARVELOUSLY EDUCATIONAL This marvelously educational series not only enlightened me on Michelangelo as a premier sculptor, painter, and architect, but also provided the historical context, personal relationships, selection and usage of the mediums, as well as growth as a human over Michelangelo's long life. I highly respected the works of Michelangelo prior to watching/listening to this series, but now I stand in awe of the man, his talents, and his accomplishments as a genius. Dr. Wallace is a wonderful communicator with the focus on his subject rather than his delivery.
Date published: 2011-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Most Excellent Course While interested in the work of Michelangelo I wondered if 36 lectures might not be too much. Let me assure you that 36 lectures is not at all too much. If you have any interest in Michelangelo, whether because you are planning a visit to Italy, have been to Italy and seen his works, or just have a general interest, then this course will give you a much greater understanding of this remarkable talent. While Irving Stone's book or the movie version on Michelangelo are entertaining, Professor Wallace brings him and his times to life in a far more convincing way. Professor Wallace is a an outstanding authority and while many art courses lean to the pedantic he never gives this feeling. His involvement in the ten year restoration of the Sistine Chapel provides insights that others cannot provide on this incredible work. If you can have available his monumental work "Michelangelo, The Complete Sculpture, Painting and Architecture" while watching the course it will increase your enjoyment. Originally issued at $95 it is obtainable through Amazon Marketplace much more reasonably. To some extent this course follows the book and each provides insights not in the other. It is a worthwhile adjunct and I highly recommend both the course and the book. Following the life of Michelangelo chronologically, Professor Wallace does not hesitate to deviate to comment on the quarrying of marble, the working of marble as well as the details of painting in the wet surface of fresco. His commentary on the politics of Florence and Rome , the Medici family and the Popes and how those all interrelate provide meaning to the work of Michelangelo that is well worth your time. Comments on particular works of art and seeming erroneous proportions explained by the placement of figures on ground or high in the air (or at least so it was planned) helps someone seeing the art to understand it in a new way. For example, the Pieta in the Vatican appears different when viewed from ground level (as we see it today) from when viewed from above. Also the lighting, now electric lighting and sadly under protective glass after vandalism in the 1970's) gives a different appearance than when viewed under natural or candlelight as was the way someone would have viewed these works in the 1500's. Comparison with other Renaissance greats like Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci and the interplay between them is brought to life with correspondence and asides that give useful understanding of not only Michelangelo but other figures of the Renaissance. Anyone who has or plans to visit Rome and Florence will find this course invaluable and provide a much deeper understanding of the visit to Michelangelo and his works. I can highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2011-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Experience This is one of the best courses I have taken in any medium, anywhere, in terms of how much I learned and how much interest that the professor generated in the subject. Dr. Wallace presented this course in a totally masterful way, leaving me yearning for more after each lecture. It's wonderful to be taught by a professor who has so much knowledge about Michelangelo, from examining his drawings and paintings in many museums throughout the world, witnessing the restoration of the Sistine Chapel, and studying the poetry and architecture of this great artist. Professor Wallace made me familiar with Michelangelo the artist as well as the Renaissance man. During the lectures, I felt like I was witnessing the creation of masterpieces in Italy. I don't think I could find the information in this course anywhere else in such an elegant form. Don't hesitate to order this course.
Date published: 2011-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful series Professor Wallace has presented a delightful lecture series on Michelangelo's genius. So much information is revealed; in particular the importance of viewing angles for Michelangelo's work. The Pieta takes on deeper meaning and significance when shown as it was meant to be. I respectfully disagree, however, that Michelangelo's representation of the female form can be excused as formulaic or accepted contemporary practice. There are so many artists of the time who were able to portray feminine beauty that holds today. From the series I would gather that Michelangelo's females are more a reflection of his own personal preference for the male form as beautiful than the female.
Date published: 2011-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Genius of Michelangelo My wife was SO impressed when I guided her through Florence and the Uffizi as well as many of the art destinations in Rome or our recent return trip. All due to this wonderfully engaging and fascinating course. Thanks, thanks, thanks!!
Date published: 2010-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ENRICHING ONE'S LIFE There is almost nothing one can add to the other reviews of this series except to urge readers to buy it, and look forward to rerunning it many times both for one's pleasure as well as education. It deals not only with the wonderful creations of this great artist, but tells us about his life and times. Dr Wallace is a gifted lecturer who makes this series outstanding.
Date published: 2010-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Definitive Michelangelo course Comprehensive survey of a great artist (and architect and poet, which I did not know about prior to the course). He could have condensed the course in places, as when he goes into the architecture, and talking about the never finished tomb. But if you put in the time and effort, you will emerge with a deeper understanding of Michelangelo than before. Was motivated to read books by Dr. Wallace and Ross King's Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling. Dr. Wallace has also been interviewed more than once on Rick Steve's travel podcasts.
Date published: 2010-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Run, Don't Walk... ...to buy this excellent series by one of TTC's very best lecturers. Wallace is both a lively and entertaining speaker and a substantive scholar who is at the top of his specialty. This is far more than an art history course. Wallace examines in depth Michelangelo's personality, his formation as an artist, the many internal and external influences upon his work, his movement across a wide range of genres (from painting to sculpture to drawing to architecture), and his frequently tumultuous relations with his noble and papal patrons. We learn much not only about Michelangelo and his art, but also about the political, cultural and social context in which he worked. I began this course already familiar with Michelangelo's best-known works (e.g., the Sistine chapel frescoes, the Pieta, the Julius tomb, and new St. Peter's), but was delighted to learn about a great many other masterworks of which I had never before even heard. I came away impressed by Michelangelo's amazing versatility as an artist, his amazing productivity (which extended well into his old age), and his humanity (as shown, for instance, by his failure to complete many commissions, his occasionally petulant responses to critics and hard-to-manage patrons, and his very touching devotion to the young men on whom he developed crushes). Congratulations to TTC and Mr. Wallace on this outstanding series.
Date published: 2010-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top Tier This professor is incontestably one of the best in the very able group of TTC faculty. He not only is expert in Michelangelo; he is passionate, extremely well organized, creative and resourceful in his lecturing, and quite strong and instructive about the history and art of the times. The bonus for us is that we learn a lot about the broader context in Italy and Europe during Michelangelo's long life as well as the lives and works of his important contemporary artists. How fortunate I am! I bought and took this course before our family's recent trip to Italy. Needless to say, it not only informed the decisions we made, but it deeply enriched the experience we had. I truly believe this course is right up with the best - Robinson, Weinstein, Kinney, and Brettell. I had believed I knew all I needed to know about Michelangelo from earlier art courses and almost never bought this course. What a mistake that would have been!
Date published: 2010-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from thrilled This course was amazing! The only bad thing about it is that it ends! I was totally sucked in and it was hard for me to pause it. The presenter was very well organized and had excellent presentation skills (I don't mind if somebody uses the teleprompter). I have learnt a great deal new information about one of my most favorite artist whose works I had the luck to admire in situ and in many museums. Top quality series and I want more!
Date published: 2010-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best course from the Teaching Company I've watched and listened to many courses from the teaching company. This course was better than any of them. By far, the best course I've watched. If you have any interest in Michelangelo, go with this course!
Date published: 2010-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How Can Learning Get Any Better Than This I woke up at 4 a.m. to finish off the series and watched the last two episodes before my 5 year old woke up. What can I say that hasn't already been said about this wonderful course? William Wallace is fantastic!!! Where was he when I was an undergraduate? So many hours spent in lackluster lectures by college professors and exams and papers graded by TA's in a big auditorium at Berkeley and not even a glimpse of passion Wallace expresses through his lectures for Michelangelo. I did not know professors like this existed. This is either my seventeenth or eighteenth lecture from the Learning Company and it has to rank as one of the best. I've seen the Florentine Pieta in the Museo del Duomo in Florence and was unimpressed...that is before Wallace gave me the story behind the four figures. Wallace turned Michelangelo's unfinished tomb scultpture into an essay on the artist's suffering, loss, and resilence without becoming maudlin. I ended up seeing the beauty in this "failed" piece. I initially thought Wallace was making excuses when he stated Michelangelo created the non-finito, when some of the unfinished works were, to me, clearly unfinished because Michelangelo saw he was at a sculptural impasse on a certain block of marble. But as the course progressed Wallace introduced additional drawings and work that reinforced his point. The last five lectures are really what did it for me. Surprisingly, I thought some of the best lectures where on Michelangelo's architecture and his poetry. Wallace was able to loosen up a bit and display his affection toward the Master in a way that was thoughtful and sincere. The Teaching Company keeps coming up with winners and this lecture series is certainly one of the best. I would like to thank Wallace for his passion and his life long interest in Michelangelo. He has given me a gift. I want to spread the word about this course!!
Date published: 2010-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Course This was a wonderful course with incredible content taught by a truly outstanding and riveting professor. I thought this course was so great, I bought his books on Michelangelo, which were also excellent. I don't spend much time giving feedback anywhere, but this is one I will "pound the table on". So far my favorite course and professor from the Teaching Company.
Date published: 2009-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Genius of William E. Wallace Like the previous reviewer I thought I knew a lot about Michelangelo, and had seen (what I believed to be) ALL the major works in Florence and Rome several times. I find myself astonished at my ignorance. I also thought I knew something about Michelangelo's life, only to discover I have bought into a myth created by the artist through his first biographers. I am awe struck by Professor Wallace's depth of knowledge and impressed by his intelligence. This course is wonderful. One of the best The Teaching Company have produced. Highly recommended
Date published: 2009-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought I knew it all I was sure I had a solid knowledge and understanding of Michelangelo having studied, viewed and admired his works for years. I even had a running list of his work so I'd never be some where and miss the opportunity to see something. Well, I was wrong. The course was enlightening, interesting, thorough and inspiriing. I shared information from his lecture on the Pieta with so many people who were headed to Rome; I was fascinated with his lectures on Michelangelo as the architect. Lectures were well organized, understandable and interesting. Professor Wallace was a pleasure to listen to and obviously passionate about his subject. I'm very glad I invested in this course.
Date published: 2009-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A LOT of Michelangelo, Beautifully Drawn This is a wonderful evocation of the life and work of one of humanity's few undeniable geniuses. Prof. Wallace is a virtuoso on Michelangelo, weaving the stories of the art and the man together in a remarkably coherent and endlessly fascinating way. His love of this subject is as obvious as his knowledge, as he deepens our understanding and appreciation of Michelangelo's painting, sculpture, architecture, and personality. The course also, at least for me, revealed a far greater range of Michelangelo's accomplishments than I had been aware of previously. Prof. Wallace is also an outstanding speaker, moving easily between analytic and poetic language as he both describes the technical aspects of the craft and attempts to give us a sense in words of what the experience of the art means to him. By the end of this course you will either feel that you know everything you could possibly want to know about Michelangelo (which is a good thing!), or you will decide to become an art historian. Either way, these are hours well worth the investsment.
Date published: 2009-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Astounding! The quality of this course is off the chart! It's almost hard to bellieve how much Professor William Wallace knows about Michelangelo, not to mention the scholar's talents and abilities to analyze the works and character of Michelangelo. If you don't believe that it's possible to bring someone who has been dead for about 450 years to back life through someone else, I suggest you check this course out. Professor Wallace has the unique ability to talk about Michelangelo as if he has personally known the artist! His in-depth analysis of Michelangelo's works make the student almost believe Wallace was able to discuss them with Michelangelo! I have the DVD version of this course, which I recommend because of its visual nature. This is one of the most worthwhile purchases I've ever made. It's outstanding!
Date published: 2009-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Even if a Little Long I really enjoyed this course, and was indeed surprised that Professor Wallace could keep me interested in the topic of Michelangelo's life and art for an entire 18(!) hours. I did feel that the course could have been condensed, probably down to a 32-lecture course. For example, the discussion on Michelangelo's poetry probably did not merit the length of time it was given. Nevertheless, this is truly an excellent course.
Date published: 2009-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bravo, Bravissimo, to TTC and William Wallace! The expertise of William Wallace is apparent from the beginning of the course. During the thirty six lectures, one can easily start taking that for granted, but William consistently reminds us of his professionalism throughout the course by presenting Michelangelo in the light of a fully appropriate historical perspective. In other words, it seems as much a course in art history as it does biography. This allows the viewer more of a freedom to focus on the artworks themselves, and not necessarily on what the lecturer is presenting them to appear like. William makes great use of the teleprompter by emphasizing certain words in each sentence as if he is in a casual conversation with you. If one were listening to audio only it really would seem as if he were a friend speaking on the cell phone with you. That warmth is a crucial to his style, but he also keep a certain scholarly distance between himself and the viewer. This holds the viewer's attention, so that William does not become predictable enough to stop one from thinking and asking questions to themselves at most every instant. To me, this perfect combination distinguishes the "standard" Teaching Company lecturer from the "most accessible," and that is saying a great deal for William. The nature of presenting an Art History course seems ideally suited to the Teaching Company format. The images of artwork throughout the course are superb. Everything from the small details, to the different angles of view, and the comparisons between different artworks, keep the course moving without any lull for a full thirty six lectures. I am literally quite upset now that I can't view a new lecture each day. Other courses don't leave me that feeling. I was seriously considering this course to be in contention for the overall best ever produced by the Teaching Company. However, that honor is still safely in the hands of one Bob Greenberg. It is hard to imagine how anyone could dislodge Bob from his position as king of the hill, especially with his large volume of courses. But the individual quality of Bob's courses is actually his strongest point. So just being considered in comparison with Bob Greenberg is a compliment in itself. Needless to say, that means I highly recommend this course by William Wallace's course, and it made a lasting impact on me like no other.
Date published: 2009-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting information Professor Wallace speaks as an expert to those interested in taking this artist seriously. Not content with repeating standard platitudes, he reexamines the shape of Michelangelo's career as well as commenting excitingly on individual works. As a former professor of English Renaissance literature for 35 years at the University of Wisconsin and as a current dealer in Renaissance prints and drawings, I learned much and appreciated the high level of interest that Professor Wallace both assumes and rewards. I found the course lectures not simply provocative but also persuasive. The result of this course has been to send me back to the books, starting with his recent study of Michelangelo's paintings, sculpture, and architecture and his edited collection of important criticism on those works. A must for those interested in a serious study of Vasari's candidate for God's gift to artists.
Date published: 2008-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW! The indepth course excerised my mind and answered all questions that I had. The courses have given me great pleasure and I can't wait for the next one.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Wallace's in-depth knowledge of enthusiasm for Michelangelo is both inspiring and heartwarming. He speaks with authority and without affectation.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Please watch a few lectures of this course and you'll see how it is painful to watch. We have only been able to watch 2-30 min lectures.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Michelangelo is my favorite artist. Your course has helped me to appreciate his work even more than before.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Michelangelo course was comprehensive, very well done by enthusiastic lecturer.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Wallace's insights, experience, and research add to the learning experience.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is one of the really exceptional courses (both subject content and instuction)
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful, thought provoking, comprehensive. Michelangelo was a multidimensional genius and the course was taught by a fantastic professor.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THIS COURSE (GENIUS OF MICHELANGELO) HELP MY WIFE AND ME IN OUR PREPARATION FOR AN UPCOMING TRIP TO FLORENCE. WE KNEW WHAT TO LOOK FOR AND OUR KNOWLEDGE GAINED GAVE US A GREATER APPRECIATION OF MICHELANGELO'S WORK AS WELL AS THE CITY.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Wallace was passionate, imaginative, expathetic, and inspiring as well as knowledgable. He made Michelangelo live for me- and I already knew quite a bit about him.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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