Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Michelangelo

My class railed to Rome last weekend. As a Catholic and art-lover, I was so amazed and excited!

We ran through the Vatican museums, just spending a few minutes at each of the most important pieces of art. I really wished we could have stayed longer. Then we walked through the Sistine Chapel and hurriedly took in the frescoes while our tour guide argued with a security guard. He wanted to kick out everybody because one of our group had been filming the ceiling.

It was as almost as packed in the Sistine Chapel as it was in the subway -- standing room only. Far above us, Michelangelo began the first frescoes close to the entrance. You can see that the people are much smaller in these scenes, because after painting them, Michelangelo stood on the floor to see how things looked. He realized that it was hard to distinguish who the people were from that far away, so when he went back up to the ceiling, he began to paint fewer people on a much larger scale.

I liked seeing the Birth of Adam in person, and in context. It is surrounded by other panels that depict each stage of creation. One shows God creating the sun, and then shows God again, with his back turned and his behind bared -- the moon!

The Last Judgement was also the last fresco that he painted there. In it, you can see the influence of "Laocoon and his Sons," because it was after seeing the unearthed sculpture that Michelangelo began to paint people in complicated, twisted poses. (Or that's the theory, anyways.) 





When the Japanese cleaned the frescoes in the 1980s, they left black squares all over the wall to show how dark it had gotten. Our tour guide told us that art history books had talked about how the darkness in Michelangelo's paintings had revealed the darkness of his soul -- little did they know that he painted in bright colors!

You can see one of the biggest black squares here, in the bottom left corner. 



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