Artibus et Historiae no. 44 (XXII)

2001, ISSN 0391-9064

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SEYMOUR HOWARD - Eros, Empathy, Expectation, Ascription, and Breasts of Michelangelo (A Prolegomenon on Polymorphism and Creativity)

The Manhattan "Eros" is replete with links to the hand, mind, eye, and ambience of Michelangelo. But his authorship of this mixed aggregate is not proven. Ultimately ascription depends upon the strengths and weaknesses of empathy and expectation joined with a wealth of supportive but inferential evidence. Whoever its author may be - and certainly Michelangelo among a host of others seems for now the most likely candidate - its androgynous and variously autobiographic attributes, including breast formulae (accessible also to forgers and simulators), tally with recurrent polymorphic aspects of Michelangelo's sanctioned and taboo interests expressed with and as a generative force that inspired his life, art, and times. This imagery, sublimated in hermetic and grotesque phantasms doted on by his elite patronage, was ultimately influential and prophetic for aspects of Mannerist and Baroque affectation.

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