Art is divine

Body Lost

by Micha Christos


- Vienna -

From September 15, 2023 to January 14, 2024


Michelangelo and beyond

Johann Peter Pichler

Male Nude Seen from Rear, 1789

Black chalk, wash, heightened with white, on gray paper

The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Seated Nude Youth and Two Arm Studies, 1510/11

Red chalk, heightened with white

The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna








In its major autumn exhibition "Michelangelo and Beyond", the ALBERTINA presents the emergence, power, significance and decline of a canon enduringly defined by Michelangelo and his nudes at the beginning of the 16th century.

This Renaissance master is at the center of this exhibition, because he is alone in his understanding of the new vision of a dynamic body. The rediscovery of Michelangelo's ancient Greco-Roman idea of the ideal living body led to groundbreaking advances in the depiction of human anatomy. As a result, new standards have been set in terms of proportion, contour, volume, shortening and movement.

This exhibition presents the most significant and beautiful works belonging to the ALBERTINA of the artistic representation of the human body from the Renaissance to the beginning of the 20th century.

The Italian artist Rafael had a similar understanding of the ideal athletic body to that of Michelangelo. The German artist Albrecht Durer had a different vision of the human nude and meticulously erected his own rules.


Ugo da Carpi

Diogenes, c. 1527

Chiaroscuro woodcut from four blocks

The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna

Albrecht Dürer

Adam and Eve, 1504


The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna







Rembrandt disagreed with Michelangelo's ideal and addressed both the male and female nude. His gaze shows the human body unfiltered and true to life in stark contrast to the ideal of Renaissance master Michelangelo.

The exhibition presents drawings, prints and sculptures that address the theme of the ideal body through the centuries.

The monotheistic belief system drove gods and goddesses out of the Greco-Roman pantheon, including the worship of the feminine ideal of Venus. Over time, women became more and more hidden and found themselves on the "dark side of the moon". During the Renaissance, artists began to represent female bodies through stereotypes without any real emancipation.

While Boucher gives pride of place to eroticism by painting nude, reclining women, Michelangelo himself drew very few nude women, instead giving male bodies a feminine appearance.







At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Klimt drew slender women far from the opulent curves of previous centuries. As for Schiele, he shows beyond the body of his emaciated nudes a suffering state of mind in a broken society.

The pieces on display range from the first drawings by Michelangelo to the works of 20th century artists and show the importance and then the decline of this vision of the body of the Italian master.


Today, the body continues to be in the midst of debates, criticisms in a multiplicity of more or less successful attempts to modify its appearance but retains all its weight, literally and figuratively, in its acceptance or rejection by a society that goes from idolatry to the deepest disgust.


Michelangelo Buonarroti

Studies for the Libyan Sibyl, c. 1510/11


The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1924, inv. no. 24.197.2

Photo: © bpk / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Egon Schiele

Mädchenakt mit verschränkten Armen, 1910 Black chalk, watercolor, on brown paper

The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna

Gustav Klimt

Study for the Left Figure of “Three Gorgons” in the Beethoven Frieze, 1901

Black chalk

The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna