Michelangelo's output in every field during his long life was extraordinary; when the complete volume of correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences that survive is also taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century.
In a demonstration of Michelangelo's unique standing, he was the first Western artist whose biography was published twice while he was alive. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino ("the divine one"). One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring magnificence, and it was the attempts of following artists to imitate Michelangelo's impassioned and highly personal style.
Michelangelo, who was often arrogant with others and constantly dissatisfied with himself, saw art as originating from inner inspiration and from culture. In contradiction to the ideas of his rival, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo saw nature as an enemy that had to be overcome. The figures that he created are forceful and dynamic, each in its own space apart from the outside world. For Michelangelo, the job of the sculptor was to free the forms that were already inside the stone. He believed that every stone had a sculpture within it, and that the work of sculpting was simply a matter of chipping away all that was not a part of the statue.
In his personal life, Michelangelo was temperate. He told his apprentice, Ascanio Condivi: "However rich I may have been, I have always lived like a poor man." Condivi said he was indifferent... [continues]
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