Michelangelo Essay, Research Paper
Michelangelo was pessimistic in his poetry and an optimist in his artwork. Michelangelo’s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it’s natural state. Michelangelo’s poetry was pessimistic in his response to Strazzi even though he was complementing him. Michelangelo’s sculpture brought out his optimism. Michelangelo was optimistic in completing The Tomb of Pope Julius II and persevered through it’s many revisions trying to complete his vision. Sculpture was Michelangelo’s main goal and the love of his life. Since his art portrayed both optimism and pessimism, Michelangelo was in touch with his positive and negative sides, showing that he had a great and stable personality.
Michelangelo’s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it’s natural state. Michelangelo Buonarroti was called to Rome in 1505 by Pope Julius II to create for him a monumental tomb. We have no clear sense of what the tomb was to look like, since over the years it went through at least five conceptual revisions. The tomb was to have three levels; the bottom level was to have sculpted figures representing Victory and bond slaves. The second level was to have statues of Moses and Saint Paul as well as symbolic figures of the active and contemplative life-representative of the human striving for, and reception of, knowledge. The third level, it is assumed, was to have an effigy of the deceased pope. The tomb of Pope Julius II was never finished. What was finished of the tomb represents a twenty-year span of frustrating delays and revised schemes. Michelangelo had hardly begun work on the pope’s tomb when Julius commanded him to fresco the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to complete the work done in the previous century under Sixtus IV. The overall organization consists of four large triangles at the corner; a series of eight triangular spaces on the outer border; an intermediate series of figures; and nine central panels, all bound together with architectural motifs and nude male figures. The corner triangles depict heroic action in the Old Testament, while the other eight triangles depict the biblical ancestors of Jesus Christ. Michelangelo conceived and executed this huge work as a single unit. It’s overall meaning is a problem. The issue has engaged historians of art for generations without satisfactory resolution. The paintings that were done by Michelangelo had been painted with the brightest colors that just bloomed the whole ceiling as one entered to look. The ceiling had been completed just a little after the Pope had died. The Sistine Chapel is the best fresco ever done.
Michelangelo embodied many characteristic qualities of the Renaissance. An individualistic, highly competitive genius (sometimes to the point of eccentricity). Michelangelo was not afraid to show humanity in it’s natural state – nakedness; even in front of the Pope and the other religious leaders. Michelangelo portrayed life as it is, even with it’s troubles. Michelangelo wanted to express his own artistic ideas. The most puzzling thing about Michelangelo’s ceiling design is the great number of seemingly irrelevant nude figures that he included in his gigantic fresco. Four youths frame most of the Genesis scenes. We know from historical records that various church officials objected to the many nudes, but Pope Julius gave Michelangelo artistic freedom, and eventually ruled the chapel off limits to anyone save himself, until the painting was completed. The many nude figures are referred to as Ignudi. They are naked humans, perhaps representing the naked truth. More likely, I think they represent Michelangelo’s concept of the human potential for perfection. Michelangelo himself said, “Whoever strives for perfection is striving for something divine.” In painting nude humans, he is suggesting the unfinished human; each of us is born nude with a mind and a body, in Neoplatonic thought, with the power to be our own shapers. Michelangelo has a very great personality for his time. In Rome, in 1536, Michelangelo was at work on the Last Judgment for the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, which he finished in 1541. The largest fresco of the Renaissance, it depicts Judgment Day. Christ, with a clap of thunder, puts into motion the inevitable separation, with the saved ascending on the left side of the painting and the damned descending on the right into a Dantesque hell. As was his custom, Michelangelo portrayed all the figures nude, but prudish draperies were added by another artist (who was dubbed the “breeches-maker”) a decade later, as the cultural climate became more conservative. Michelangelo painted his own image in the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew. Although he was also given another painting commission, the decoration of the Pauline Chapel in the 1540s, his main energies were directed toward architecture during this phase of his life. Instead of being obedient to classical Greek and Roman practices, Michelangelo used motifs-columns, pediments, and brackets-for a personal and expressive purpose. A Florentine-although born March 6, 1475, in the small village of Caprese near Arezzo-Michelangelo continued to have a deep attachment to his city, its art, and its culture throughout his long life. He spent the greater part of his adulthood in Rome, employed by the popes; characteristically, however, he left instructions that he be buried in Florence, and his body was placed there in a fine monument in the church of Santa Croce.
Michelangelo portrayed both optimism and pessimism. Sculptures was where he wanted his heart dedicated. Michelangelo gave up painting apprenticeship to take up a new career in sculpture. Michelangelo then went to Rome, where he was able to examine many newly unearthed classical statues and ruins. He soon produced his first large-scale sculpture, the over-life-size Bacchus (1496-98, Bargello, Florence). One of the few works of pagan rather than Christian subject matter made by the master, it rivaled ancient statuary, the highest mark of admiration in Renaissance Rome. At about the same time, Michelangelo also did the marble Piet? (1498-1500), still in its original place in Saint Peter’s Basilica. One of the most famous works of art, the Piet? was probably finished before Michelangelo was 25 years old, and it is the only work he ever signed. The youthful Mary is shown seated majestically, holding the dead Christ across her lap, a theme borrowed from northern European art. Instead of revealing extreme grief, Mary is restrained, and her expression is one of resignation. In this work, Michelangelo summarizes the sculptural innovations of his 15th-century predecessors such as Donatello, while ushering in the new monumentality of the High Renaissance style of the 16th century.
Michelangelo was pessimistic in his response to Strazzi. I did not see Strazzi as complementing him. Michelangelo responds in a pessimistic tone to what should have been a complement. Michelangelo said, “sleep is precious; more precious to be stone, when evil and shame are aboard; it is a blessing not to see, not to hear. Pray, do not disturb me. Speak softly”. During his long lifetime, Michelangelo was an intimate of princes and popes, from Lorenzo de’ Medici to Leo X, Clement VIII, and Pius III, as well as cardinals, painters, and poets. Neither easy to get along with nor easy to understand, he expressed his view of himself and the world even more directly in his poetry than in the other arts. Much of his verse deals with art and the hardships he underwent, or with Neoplatonic philosophy and personal relationships. The great Renaissance poet Ludovico Ariosto wrote succinctly of this famous artist: “Michael more than mortal, divine angel.” Indeed, Michelangelo was widely awarded the epithet”divine” because of his extraordinary accomplishments. Two generations of Italian painters and sculptors were impressed by his treatment of the human figure: Raphael, Annibale Carracci, Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Sebastiano del Piombo and Titian.
In conclusion, Michelangelo (1475-1564), was arguably one of the most inspired creators in the history of art and, with Leonardo da Vinci, the most potent force in the Italian High Renaissance. As a sculptor, architect, painter, and poet, he exerted a tremendous influence on his contemporaries and on subsequent Western art in general. Michelangelo was pessimistic in his poetry and an optimist in his artwork. Michelangelo’s works showed humanity in it’s natural state.