Non finito: Michelangelo, Rilke, and the Poetics of the Fragment

Non finito
01 November 2017 → 31 October 2020
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Curatorial and related studies
    • History
    • Other history and archaeology
    • Art studies and sciences
    • Artistic design
    • Audiovisual art and digital media
    • Heritage
    • Music
    • Theatre and performance
    • Visual arts
    • Other arts
    • Product development
    • Study of regions
non finito
Project description

The project reevaluates the relation between modern theories of literary, psychoanalytical, and philosophical fragmentation and Michelangelo Buonarroti’s late artistic style, non finito. The research explores the influence of Michelangelo’s poetry on Rainer Maris Rilke’s oeuvre and the latter’s translation of Michelangelo’s poems, as well as the development of later variations of non finito in Modernism.
The second module of the project analyzes the manuscripts of Michelangelo’s poetry and will result in the creation of a new critical edition and facsimile. It will include all of the hitherto unpublished drawings on the margins of Michelangelo’s poetical works.
The last module of the project proposes a broader meta-analysis of theories of fragmentation in relation to Freud’s theory of the unconscious and his understanding of Italy as a site of abiding importance, inflected by his writings on Michelangelo. The module will also center on the problem of poetic tone that transpires through the composite figure of text-image in both Rilke and
Michelangelo, as well as in 20th century French and German symbolism spanning from Stéphane Mallarmé to Paul Celan and René Char, and will make use of media theories about the porous nature of text and image. Together, these three modules trace a history of the fragment in literature, philosophy, and poetry to Michelangelo’s Rime and non-finito, underlying the importance of the fragment in the production of Western cultural edifices.