Laurentian Library (and another thing)

Posted on Mar 18, 2016

Last month I posted about Michelangelo’s Laurentian sketch, which I thought looked “opened out, uncomfortable, exposed” and which, I consequently imagined, must have been drawn in company or before an audience, perhaps with “the artist speaking, presenting—mostly speaking, making a case, giving detail, elaborating, making the image wrought“. This occurred to me because often see this kind of unnaturalness in writing and sketching and doodling I’ve produced with people looking over my shoulder, invited, acknowledged or otherwise. Even when I’ve long forgotten circumstances of an entry in my notebook, I can still pick out these episodes because of about the handwriting doesn’t look quite at home.

And a happy coincidence: flicking through my notebook a few days after my encounter with the Michelangelo in the print room, my notes from that afternoon stood out to me as exactly an example of this unnaturalness, this sense of being exposed. I don’t know if you can tell, but to my eyes which are so familiar with my own handwriting, the script on the right-hand page looks distinctly ‘opened out’ and quite different from the that of the left-hand page. The right-hand notes I wrote as Jim answered some questions I had about the drawing and contemporary drawing practices in general; the left-hand notes I wrote privately, unobserved, feeling my way along the surface of the page.

michelangelo pps