My most moving experience with sculpture actually consists of two moments, both involving Michelangelo. I had the privilege of spending a year in Europe (Scotland) about forty-five years ago, as a twenty-two and -three year old, on a Federal scholarship, and was able to take the “grand tour” of western and southern Europe the latter summer. Bear in mind, this was before television was at all common, and it was my first visit outside of Louisiana and the American southeast in general.
I saw for the first time extensive collections of the world’s best art in New York, London, Paris, other European capitals, and so on, but it was in little Florence, and about a week later in Rome, in the small museum of St. John Lateran, that I was moved the most. In Florence, at the Academia (sp?) by Michelangelo’s David, and in Rome, by his Moses.
Forget Pieta and the others - they’re fine but in my mind don’t compare with these two. In both these pieces, I found the energy level so high, I literally saw lightning flashing from the eyes. David, of course is nude and as well conceived as any figure in existence. Moses, in contrast, is fully clothed. But both contained, as I saw them, a spark of life such as I rarely have seen in any sculpture.