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Michelangelo Buonarroti, known to most of the world as Michelangelo, was born in the small village of Caprese, Italy on March 6th, 1475. The greatest of the Renaissance artists died in 1564, but not before leaving a mark on fine art that is still appreciated to this day. Michelangelo grew up with a great love for drawing and painting as most famous artists do. However, he eventually became a well known architect and sculpter as well. Despite not utilizing his sculpting talent until later in life, Michelangelo always believed that his greatest work was as a sculptor. Throughout his life, Michelangelo published many pieces of art for the rest of the world to enjoy. Some of his most famous pieces include The Last Judgement, The Creation of Adam, and Pieta.
Michelangelo began work on The Creation of Adam in 1508 and completed the piece in 1512. The painting depicts the narrative from Genesis, the first book of The Bible, in which God gives life to Adam, the first man. The painting is located on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy. At first glance, the painting shows a naked man on the left extending his left arm towards a man clothed in what looks like a toga, who is extending his right arm back. The two are also extending their index fingers towards each other as if to touch. However, with a closer look, the fingers are not touching but are definitely reaching out to each other. In fact, the space between the fingers of the two men actually stands out more to an observer the longer you look at the work of art. Both men are in peak physical condition. However, the man on the right seems to be significantly older than the man on the left. The older man, who in my opinion is portraying God, stands out with long, flowing white hair and a gray and white beard that extends past his shoulders. Behind the older man there appears to be both children and young women, most of whom are naked, with the majority looking at the younger man on the left. In addition, behind the older man there is a large, dark red curtain that seems to be blowing in the wind. In looking beyond the man on the left, there is a large green and brown mountain that has a river flowing down the side of the mountain at a slight and easy angle. This tiny detail, in my opinion, gives the painting a softness and makes the entire work a calming one.
One of my favorite pieces by Michelangelo is The Last Judgement. This piece of art, like The Creation of Adam, can also be found at the Sistene Chapel in Rome. The great artist began work on The Last Judgement in 1536 and completed the painting in 1541. The Last Judgement stands at an astonishing 39 by 45 feet tall. Over 25,000 people view this great work daily, which is not only beautiful, but has some interesting facts to go along with it as well. The most interesting information regarding this painting is the fact that people believe Michelangleo added his self portait into the work as one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. Another interesting fact is that while working on the painting, Michelangelo including mythical creatures to the work instead of Biblical characters. At first glance, the Last Judgement is a bit overwelming due to the size of the painting and the amount of things going on within the painting. One particular thing that stood out to me was the fact that most of the characters in the painting are standing on clouds. In my opinion, this gives off the idea that the characters are God-like. Something else that stands out is it appears to be Mary and Jesus standing in the very middle. Mary is on the left, wearing pink and blue with a white hood on her head, while Jesus is on the right, wearing robe-like clothing. Jesus is significantly larger than everyone else in the portrait, depicting the importance that he played in the history of Christianity. Jesus may not be recognizable at first look, but that is only because Michelangelo painted him without a beard, something that is not seen in most historical portraits of the Son of God. This unordinary look makes one take a closer look at the artwork and appreciate the details that Michelangelo worked with.
Lastly, there is the sculpture The Pieta, which means “pity” or “compassion”. I chose this piece of art because of the pride that Michelangelo took in his sculpture work. The Pieta was sculpted from 1498 to 1499 and currently sits in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. The sculpture is made out of one single slab of carrara marble. Something unique about The Pieta is that it is the only piece of artwork that the great artist and sculptor personally signed. The signature across Mary’s chest signifies why Michelangelo’s reputation as a great artist was well known before he turned 24 years of age. The sculpture has been damaged and repaired many times throughout its lifespan. In 1736, four fingers on the left hand of Mary broke off, but fortunately were able to be replaced. In 1972 an onlooker leaped over the sightseeing barrier and began hitting the Pieta with a hammer. The man struck the sculpture 12 times before he was restrained and removed by security. The incident caused damage to the left arm, nose, eye, and cheek of Mary. Repairs were difficult as it took 20 different attempts to repair the eye before experts agreed that the work was sufficient. The entire sculpture however, was restored in the next 10 months and now sits behind a wall of glass to avoid another attack from a tourist. In my opinion, the detail that Michelangelo put into Mary’s robe is simply amazing. The wrinkles of the robe have a realistic and detailed look as does the veil on her head. The incredible marble is impressive and is soothing to the eye.
Michelangelo had so many incredible works of art that it is very difficult to select only three pieces to review. His thought process and imagination was limitless and his work continues to be enjoyed today by millions. Without this great artist/sculptor, our vision into the history of the beginnings of earth would be drastically different. The world is a better place because of the fine artworks of Michelangelo.
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