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About Miles J. Unger
He currently writes on art and culture for The Economist magazine, and from 1999-2010 was a contributing writer at The New York Times. Miles currently lives near Boston with his wife Jody.
Visit him at his website: www.milesjunger.com
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Lorenzo's grandfather Cosimo had converted the vast wealth of the family bank into political power, but from his earliest days Lorenzo's position was precarious. Bitter rivalries among the leading Florentine families and competition among the squabbling Italian states meant that Lorenzo's life was under constant threat. Those who plotted his death included a pope, a king, and a duke, but Lorenzo used his legendary charm and diplomatic skill -- as well as occasional acts of violence -- to navigate the murderous labyrinth of Italian politics. Against all odds he managed not only to survive but to preside over one of the great moments in the history of civilization.
Florence in the age of Lorenzo was a city of contrasts, of unparalleled artistic brilliance and unimaginable squalor in the city's crowded tenements; of both pagan excess and the fire-and-brimstone sermons of the Dominican preacher Savonarola. Florence gave birpth to both the otherworldly perfection of Botticelli's Primavera and the gritty realism of Machiavelli's The Prince. Nowhere was this world of contrasts more perfectly embodied than in the life and character of the man who ruled this most fascinating city.
Michelangelo stands alone as a master of painting, sculpture, and architecture, a man who reinvented the practice of art itself. Throughout his long career he clashed with patrons by insisting that he had no master but his own demanding muse. Michelangelo was ambitious, egotistical, and difficult, but through the towering force of genius and through sheer pugnaciousness, he transformed the way we think about art.
Miles Unger narrates the life of this tormented genius through six of his greatest masterpieces. Each work expanded the expressive range of the medium, from the Pietà carved by a brash young man of twenty-four, to the apocalyptic Last Judgment, the work of an old man weighed down by the unimaginable suffering he had witnessed. In the gargantuan David he depicts Man in the glory of his youth, while in the tombs he carved for his Medici overlords he offers perhaps history’s most sustained meditation on death and the afterlife of the soul. In the vast expanse of the Sistine Chapel ceiling he tells the epic story of Creation. During the final decades of his life, his hands too unsteady to wield the brush and chisel, he exercised his mind by raising the soaring vaults and dome of St. Peter’s in a final tribute to his God.
“A deeply human tribute to one of the most accomplished and fascinating figures inthe history of Western culture” (The Boston Globe), Michelangelo brings to life the irascible, egotistical, and undeniably brilliant man whose artistry continues to amaze and inspire us after five hundred years.
Niccolò Machiavelli, Florentine diplomat and civil servant, is the father of political science. His most notorious work, The Prince, is a primer on how to acquire and retain power without regard to scruple or conscience. His other masterpiece, The Discourses, offers a profound analysis of the workings of the civil state and a hardheaded assessment of human nature.
Machiavelli’s philosophy was shaped by the tumultuous age in which he lived, an age of towering geniuses and brutal tyrants. He was on intimate terms with Leonardo and Michelangelo. His first political mission was to spy on the fire-and-brimstone preacher Savonarola. As a diplomat, he matched wits with the corrupt and carnal Pope Alexander VI and his son, the notorious Cesare Borgia, whose violent career served as a model for The Prince. His insights were gleaned by closely studying men like Julius II, the “Warrior Pope,” and his successor, the vacillating Clement VII, as well as two kings of France and the Holy Roman Emperor. Analyzing their successes and failures, Machiavelli developed his revolutionary approach to power politics.
Machiavelli was, above all, a student of human nature. In The Prince he wrote a practical guide to the aspiring politician that is based on the world as it is, not as it should be. He has been called cold and calculating, cynical and immoral. In reality, argues biographer Miles Unger, he was a deeply humane writer whose controversial theories were a response to the violence and corruption he saw around him. He was a psychologist with acute insight into human nature centuries before Freud. A brilliant and witty writer, he was not only a political theorist but also a poet and the author of La Mandragola, the finest comedy of the Italian Renaissance. He has been called the first modern man, unafraid to contemplate a world without God. Rising from modest beginnings on the strength of his own talents, he was able to see through the pious hypocrisy of the age in which he lived.
Miles Unger has relied on original Italian sources as well as his own deep knowledge of Florence in writing this fascinating and authoritative account of a genius whose work remains as relevant today as when he wrote it.
“An engrossing read…a historically and psychologically rich account of the young Picasso and his coteries in Barcelona and Paris” (The Washington Post) and how he achieved his breakthrough and revolutionized modern art through his masterpiece, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
In 1900, eighteen-year-old Pablo Picasso journeyed from Barcelona to Paris, the glittering capital of the art world. For the next several years he endured poverty and neglect before emerging as the leader of a bohemian band of painters, sculptors, and poets. Here he met his first true love and enjoyed his first taste of fame. Decades later Picasso would look back on these years as the happiest of his long life.
Recognition came first from the avant-garde, then from daring collectors like Leo and Gertrude Stein. In 1907, Picasso began the vast, disturbing masterpiece known as Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Inspired by the painting of Paul Cézanne and the inventions of African and tribal sculpture, Picasso created a work that captured the disorienting experience of modernity itself. The painting proved so shocking that even his friends assumed he’d gone mad, but over the months and years it exerted an ever greater fascination on the most advanced painters and sculptors, ultimately laying the foundation for the most innovative century in the history of art.
In Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World, Miles J. Unger “combines the personal story of Picasso’s early years in Paris—his friendships, his romances, his great ambition, his fears—with the larger story of modernism and the avant-garde” (The Christian Science Monitor). This is the story of an artistic genius with a singular creative gift. It is “riveting…This engrossing book chronicles with precision and enthusiasm a painting with lasting impact in today’s art world” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), all of it played out against the backdrop of the world’s most captivating city.
La vita geniale e travolgente di Lorenzo de’ Medici
Lorenzo de’ Medici incarna lo spirito del Rinascimento italiano
Noto per i suoi prodigiosi talenti, la personalità magnetica e la raffinatezza politica, Lorenzo de’ Medici fu al tempo stesso un grande statista, un poeta rinomato e un leggendario mecenate. Seppe circondarsi dei più grandi artisti a lui contemporanei, tra cui Leonardo, Botticelli, Poliziano e Michelangelo. Riuscì a trasformare Firenze nella capitale della cultura d’Europa, ma anche al culmine del suo trionfo non mancarono le contraddizioni: le ineguagliabili vette artistiche e lo squallore dei palazzi affollati; gli eccessi pagani e le prediche di Savonarola; la perfezione ultraterrena della Primavera di Botticelli e il realismo grintoso di Machiavelli nel suo Principe. Incoerenze esemplari sono tramandate anche nella sua vita e nel suo carattere. Un ritratto vivido, colorato e appassionante di un’era caratterizzata da intrighi, fervore religioso e artistico, legata indissolubilmente al nome del Magnifico.
I fasti e gli orrori del principato di Lorenzo de’ Medici, detto il Magnifico
«Una meravigliosa lettura per gli amanti della storia e dell’arte del Rinascimento.»
The Boston Globe
«Questo libro ci trasporta nella Firenze del XV secolo. Il risultato è un racconto appassionante dei fasti e della brutale violenza dell’epoca.»
«La biografia di una città, oltre che quella di un uomo. Il libro riesce a catturare un momento storico con straordinaria chiarezza.»
Miles J. Unger
Si occupa di arte, libri e cultura nelle colonne del «The Economist», ma collabora con il «New York Times» ed è stato editor di «Art New England». La sua grande passione per l’arte l’ha portato a vivere cinque anni a Firenze, sulle tracce delle grandi figure rinascimentali che ama. Attualmente vive a Boston.