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Ambitious Form:
Giambologna, Ammanati, and Danti in Florence
Michael W. Cole

Finalist for the 2012 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, College Art Association
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2011

Hardcover | 2010 | $64.00 | ($44.80) / £43.95 | (£30.77) | ISBN: 9780691147444
400 pp. | 8 x 10 | 167 halftones.
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Ambitious Form describes the transformation of Italian sculpture during the neglected half century between the death of Michelangelo and the rise of Bernini. The book follows the Florentine careers of three major sculptors--Giambologna, Bartolomeo Ammanati, and Vincenzo Danti--as they negotiated the politics of the Medici court and eyed one another's work, setting new aims for their art in the process. Only through a comparative look at Giambologna and his contemporaries, it argues, can we understand them individually--or understand the period in which they worked.

Michael Cole shows how the concerns of central Italian artists changed during the last decades of the Cinquecento. Whereas their predecessors had focused on specific objects and on the particularities of materials, late sixteenth-century sculptors turned their attention to models and design. The iconic figure gave way to the pose, individualized characters to abstractions. Above all, the multiplicity of master crafts that had once divided sculptors into those who fashioned gold or bronze or stone yielded to a more unifying aspiration, as nearly every ambitious sculptor, whatever his training, strove to become an architect.


"In this stimulating offering, Cole investigates sculptural enterprise in Florence during the second half of the 16th century. Focusing on Giambologna, Bartolomeo Ammanati, and Vincenzo Danti, this book is no mere survey of trends or compilation of biographies. It concerns what being a sculptor meant in this dynamic time and place and the nature of the plastic arts themselves. The study, which is as ambitious as its subjects were, succeeds brilliantly. . . . [P]rofoundly original."--Choice

"The book is beautifully illustrated and structured around clearly defined thematic chapters, and Cole weaves, or perhaps it would be better to say, builds an art historical text that is just as monumental as the sculptural works he discusses."--Jennifer D. Webb, Sixteenth Century Journal

"Cole is persuasive and unsettling enough to ensure that no reader will be able to look at a sixteenth-century sculpture the same way again."--Cammy Brothers, Oxford Art Journal

"Ambitious Form has much to recommend it as essential reading for anyone interested in the history of art. Cole's ability to make the reader/viewer take a second and more studied look at an object is repeatedly evinced."--Fredrika Jacobs, European Legacy


"Ambitious Form is an authoritative, innovative, and important study--like no other book on early modern Italian sculpture, in any language, with which I am familiar. Original in its scope, methodology, and conclusions, it will, I am confident, be praised by specialists and students alike."--Steven F. Ostrow, University of Minnesota

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Table of Contents:

Introduction i
Chapter 1: Models 21
Chapter 2: Professions 51
Chapter 3: Naturalism 90
Chapter 4: Pose 121
Chapter 5: Sculpture as Architecture 158
Chapter 6: Chapels 193
Chapter 7: Sculpture in the City 244
Conclusion 283
Photo Credits 287
Notes 293
Acknowledgments 353
Index 357

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File created: 9/19/2015

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