Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?
I have to disagree with most of the posts here. Michaelangelo's ability to render flesh is not something that struck me at all. It's difficult to describe something as beautiful as his later works, but I can make two guesses about that mysterious something.
The first is that Michaelangelo's sculptures are simply alive, they have a spirit within them. I know that doesn't really describe much, but after looking at some genuinely great works you'll know what I mean. I strongly recommend that you catch a train to Rome and visit the Vatican Museums. The ancient Egyptian (as opposed to the hellenistic Egyptian) Sculpture is as stiff as a board but has more life in it than almost anything else you'll see. My favourite works at Florence are Michaelangelo's unfinished Pieta and Donatello's Mary Magdelene, both in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. When I went to see them for the last time before flying home I felt as though I was saying goodbye to two old friends - they really are that Beautiful.
The other thing that Michaelangelo managed to do is not so much that he did one thing really well, but that he did everything well. His real genius was in being able to keep every element of the work in harmony so that one doesn't dominate to the detriment of another. To get an idea of what I mean you should compare his later works to the Bacchus in the Bargello, where, from one angle, the cup obscures the figure's head. This is a talent that Bernini shared.
I know these are both very airy-fairy statements, but I think when a sculptor passes a certain level of talent their works become harder and harder to describe in concrete terms.