Operele lui Michelangelo

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   TIMELINE: The High Renaissance
   Caprese, Republic of Florence [Italy]--d. Feb. 18, 1564, Rome),
   Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, and poet who exerted
   an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art.
   [Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994]
   ``I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.''
   -- Michelangelo, quoted in Vasari's Lives of the Artists
     * [LINK] David
       Gigantic marble, started in 1501 and completed in 1504
       Michelangelo began work on the colossal figure of David in 1501,
       and by 1504 the sculpture (standing at 4.34m/14 ft 3 in tall) was
       in place outside the Palazzo Vecchio. The choice of David was
       supposed to reflect the power and determination of Republican
       Florence and was under constant attack from supporters of the
       usurped Medicis. In the 19th century the statue was moved to the
Michelangelo: a dominant force in Florence and Rome

   Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564) exerted enormous influence. He,
   too, was universally acknowledged as a supreme artist in his own
   lifetime, but again, his followers all too often present us with only
   the master's outward manner, his muscularity and gigantic grandeur;
   they miss the inspiration. Sebastiano del Piombo (c.1485-1547), for
   example, actually used a drawing (at least a sketch) made for him by
   Michelangelo for his masterwork, The Raising of Lazarus. Masterwork it
   is; yet how melodramatic it appears if compared with Michelangelo's
   own painting.
   Michelangelo resisted the paintbrush, vowing with his characteristic
   vehemence that his sole tool was the chisel. As a well-born
   Florentine, a member of the minor aristocracy, he was temperamentally
   resistant to coercion at any time. Only the power of the pope,
   tyranical by position and by nature, forced him to the Sistine and the
   reluctant achievement of the world's greatest single fresco. His
   contemporaries spoke about his terribilità, which means, of course,
   not so much being terrible as being awesome. There has never been a
   more literally awesome artist than Michelangelo: awesome in the scope
   of his imagination, awesome in his awareness of the significance--the
   spiritual significance--of beauty. Beauty was to him divine, one of
   the ways God communicated Himself to humanity.
   Like Leonardo, Michelangelo too had a good Florentine teacher, the
   delightful Domenico Ghirlandaio (c.1448-94). Later, he was to claim
   that he never had a teacher, and figuratively, this is a meaningful
   enough statement. However, his handling of the claw chisel does reveal
   his debt to Ghirlandaio's early influence, and this is evident in the
   cross-hatching of Michelangelo's drawings--a technique he undoubtedly
   learned from his master. The gentle accomplishments of a work like The
   Birth of John the Baptist bear not the slightest resemblance to the
   huge intelligence of an early work of Michelangelo's like The Holy
   Family, also known as the Doni Tondo. This is somehow not an
   attractive picture with its chilly, remote beauty, but its stark power
   stays in the mind when more acessible paintings have been forgotten.
     * [LINK] The Holy Family with the infant St. John the Baptist (the
       Doni Tondo)
       c. 1503-05 (130 Kb); Tempera on panel, Diameter 120 cm (47 in);
       Uffizi, Florence
The Sistine Chapel

   All the same, it is the Sistine ceiling that displays Michelangelo at
   the full stretch of his majesty. Recent cleaning and restoration have
   exposed this astonishing work in the original vigour of its color. The
   sublime forms, surging with desperate energy, tremendous with
   vitality, have always been recognized as uniquely grand. Now these
   splendid shapes are seen to be intensely alive in their color, indeed
   shockingly so for those who liked them in their previous dim grandeur.
   The story of the Creation that the ceiling spells out is far from
   simple, partly because Michelangelo was an exceedingly complicated
   man, partly because he dwells here on profundities of theology that
   most people need to have spelt out for them, and partly because he has
   balanced his biblical themes and events with giant ignudi, naked
   youths of superhuman grace. They express a truth with surpassing
   strength, yet we do not clearly see what this truth actually is. The
   meaning of the ignudi is a personal one: it cannot be verbalized or
   indeed theologized, but it is experienced with the utmost force.
     * [LINK] Creation of the Sun and Moon
     * [LINK] The Separation of Light from the Darkness
       Detail of the Sistine Chapel, appearing over the head of the
       Prophet Jeremiah
       Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel from 1508
       to 1512, commissioned by Pope Julius II. On becoming pope in 1503,
       Julius II reasserted papal authority over the Roman barons and
       successfully backed the restauration of the Medici in Florence. He
       was a liberal patron of the arts, commissioning Bramante to build
       St Peter's Church, Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, and
       Raphael to decorate the Vatican apartments.
       (thanks to tom@tom2.webo.dg.com)
Seers and prophets

   There is the same power, though in more comprehensible form, in the
   great prophets and seers that sit in solemn niches below the naked
   athletes. Sibyls were the oracles of Greece and Rome. One of the most
   famous was the Sibyl of Cumae, who, in the Aeneid, gives guidance to
   Aeneas on his journey to the underworld. Michelangelo was a
   heavyweight intellectual and poet, a profoundly educated man and a man
   of utmost faith; his vision of God was of a deity all ``fire and
   ice'', terrible, august in His severe purity. The prophets and the
   seers who are called by divine vocation to look upon the hidden
   countenance of God have an appropriate largeness of spirit. They are
   all persons without chitchat in them.
     * [LINK] Delphes Sylphide
       ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
     * [LINK] Sybille de Cummes
       ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
       Sibyls were female seers of ancient Greece and Rome. They were
       also known as oracles. Like the Jewish prophets of the Old
       Testament, many sibyls had their sayings recorded in books. Jewish
       prophets spoke unbidden, whereas sibyls tended to speak only if
       consulted on specific questions. They sometimes answered in
       riddles or rhetorical questions.
       (thanks to William Arnett)
   The Erythraean Sibyl leans forward, lost in her book. The artist makes
   no attempt to show any of the sibyls in appropriate historical garb,
   or to recall the legends told of them by the classical authors. His
   interest lies in their symbolic value for humanity, proof that they
   have always been the spiritual enlightened ones, removed from the sad
   confusion of blind time.
   The fact that the sibyls originated in a myth, and one dead to his
   heart (which longed for Christian orthodoxy) only heightens the drama.
   At some level we all resent the vulnerability of our condition, and if
   only in image, not reality, we take deep comfort in these godlike
   human figures. Some of the sibylline seers are shown as aged, bent,
   alarmed by their prophetic insight.
   The implicit sense of God's majesty (rather than His fatherhood) is
   made explicit in the most alarming Last Judgement known to us. Is is
   Michelangelo's final condemnation of a world he saw as irredeemably
   corrupt, a verdict essentially heretical, though at that time is was
   thought profoundly orthodox. His judging Christ is a great, vengeful
   Apollo, and the power in this terrible painting comes from the
   artist's tragic despairs. He paints himself into the judgement, not as
   an integral person, but as a flayed skin, an empty envelope of dead
   surface, drained of his personhood by artistic pressure. The only
   consolation, when even the Virgin shrinks from this thunderous
   colossus, is that the skin belongs to St Bartholomew, and through this
   martyr's promise of salvation we understand that perhaps, though
   flayed alive, the artist is miraculously saved.
   As grandly impassive as the Erythraean Sibyl is the heroic Adam in The
   Creation of Adam, lifting his languid hand to his Creator, indifferent
   to the coming agonies of being alive.
     * [LINK] The Creation of Man (Fragment of the Sistine Chapel
               © 11 Jun 1996, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info
     Thanks to the BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum mirrors, partners and
                      contributors for their support.

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