The Agony and the Ecstasy
By Irving Stone

I picked up this fictionalized account of Michelangelo's life while traveling in Europe. Stone creates an epic story about the artist's struggle to be understood as the master he was. Michelangelo had to work for warring popes and princes, some of whom kept him away from marble, his favorite medium, by commissioning him to paint. By the time he was free to carve the kind of statues he was passionate about, he was old and sick. Stone writes that Michelangelo believed his sculptures existed fully formed inside the marble, and his job was simply to get them out. It's a metaphor I've since used when acting, writing, or directing.


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