Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
You cannot stand underneath the masterwork that is the Sistine Chapel without considering the genius and painstaking work that went into its creation. Michelangelo Buonarroti never wanted to paint the Sistine Chapel, though. Appointed by the temperamental Julius II, Michelangelo believed the suspiciously large-scale project to be a plot for failure conspired by his rivals and the “Warrior Pope.” After all, Michelangelo was not a painter—he was a sculptor. The noble artist reluctantly took on the daunting task that would damage his neck, back, and eyes (if you have ever strained to admire the real thing, you know). Andrew Graham-Dixon tells the story behind the famous painted ceiling over which the great artist painfully toiled for four long years.
Linking Michelangelo’s personal life to his work on the Sistine Chapel, Graham-Dixon describes Michelangelo’s unique depiction of the Book of Genesis, tackles ambiguities in the work, and details the painstaking work that went into Michelangelo’s magnificent creation. Complete with rich, full-color illustrations and Graham-Dixon’s articulate narrative, Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel is an indispensable and significant piece of art criticism. It humanizes this heavenly masterpiece in a way that every art enthusiast, student, and professional can understand and appreciate.
he did his utmost to avoid repeating them. The paintings that he produced, ranging from The Separation of Light and Darkness to The Creation of Adam, from The Deluge and the other stories of Noah to the depictions of the prophets, are exhilaratingly varied and inventive. But they bear little resemblance to any pictures made before their time. Even at the halfway stage of their completion, when the artist’s scaffolding was moved across the vault to reveal the work he had done so far, what most
wrestlers preserved in the Uffizi Galleries at Florence. Since this work was only excavated in 1583, Michelangelo cannot have known it directly. But it seems probable that he was familiar with a similar sculpture, subsequently lost to the ravages of time. Michelangelo’s allusions to classical sculpture should not be taken to signal an unthinking admiration for the world of antiquity. The opposite is the case. On this occasion, he uses the figural language of Roman art, with its straining, busy
accompanied by two genii, who resemble children or putti but are metaphorically the spirits of her inspiration. One, half asleep, drowsily rubs his eyes, while the other lights a lamp, signifying the flame of divine revelation – and perhaps indicating that moments of insight are apt to occur late at night, when the midnight oil is being burned. The Delphic Sibyl is a figure of Grecian elegance, who turns away from the scroll she has been contemplating to gaze wide-eyed into the distance. The
monumentality and directness. To approach the Sistine Chapel ceiling as if it were an iconographical picture puzzle, to go to it in quest of secret meanings and veiled correspondences, seems fundamentally perverse – like going to the music of Bach, not to be moved, but to hunt out the mathematical principles that might underlie its harmonies. The essential meanings of the cycle are unfolded across each of its levels with a great and at times chilling clarity. The figures of the ancestors
Giles of Viterbo Giovanni, of Pistoia God: early portrayals; in Separation of Light and Darkness; in Creation of Adam; in Creation of Eve; in The Creation of Life in the Waters; in The Creation of the Sun, Moon and Plants; man’s relationship with; mercy; Old Testament golden age good and evil Giovio, Paolo Great Schism, the green, symbolism of grotesques Hadrian VI, Pope Haman Hamlet (Shakespeare) Head of a Faun Heraclitus Holanda, Francisco de Holkham Hall Homeric legend human