It is right to consider Michelangelo Buonarroti as the dominant figure of the whole sixteenth century and of the entire Italian Renaissance. Leonardo was already considered “divine” by contemporaries. Michelangelo, on the other hand, was not only equally “divine”, but – as the Italian artist and art historian Giorgio Vasari said – even “most divine”, a spirit sent to earth by God to show the perfection of art in all its aspects.
Pietta by MichaelAngelo one of the greatness inspiration in the Renaissance.
Others say that Michelangelo represents the man who ends the evolutionary process of art started with Cimabue and Giotto centuries earlier.
In short, there is no artist of his own time who has not suffered from his personality. To understand Michelangelo it is necessary to study him historically, inserted in the cultural, political and social environment of his century, one of the darkest and most dramatic but also one of the most profitable in the field of art.
In addition, his life (almost 90 years) allowed him to move from the age of Lorenzo the Magnificent to the age of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, allowing him to witness the wars between the French and the Spanish for dominance over Italy.
In fact Michelangelo, like Donatello, is continually renewed, does not age with the passing of years and becomes the interpreter of an entire era.
Michelangelo was born in a family of small nobility. At the age of thirteen he began to study in Domenico Ghirlandaio’s workshop.
The difference in temperament between teacher and pupil was such that the effect of this first apprenticeship is not found in his later works. Lorenzo the Magnificent, lord of Florence, took the young as his protégé keeping him in his own house together with his children. In the Medici house Michelangelo met and lived with some of the greatest cultural personalities of the time. It is here that he learns to deal with the problem of art as a cultural commitment, rather than a manual one, just as Leonardo da Vinci had done.
Unlike what had happened at the Ghirlandaio workshop, Lorenzo il Magnifico Michelangelo learned the sense of proportions and relationships according to a classic understanding, detached from the contemporary age. It is the same that happens today in art schools: at that time authentic marble statues were copied, while today students copy the “plaster”. The purpose, however, does not change and is to learn the rules from tradition art schools and apply to contemporary Art sculptures.
The tradition teaching of coping from a great pieces of Art like the Moses of Michaelangelo is the best practice to become a masters in Stone Sculpture.
Usually we talk about “Michelangelo’s poetics”. By reproducing in marble an object he keeps fixed before his eyes, Michelangelo gets used to considering that what he carves already exists before.
Then, when he begins to sculpt freely, the figure he carves in marble must be very precise and visible in his mind, as if it already existed: in marble he will have to find that idea that lives in his imagination.
This is Michelangelo’s poetics. If the vision of what is to be represented is already in the artist’s mind even before he puts his hand to the chisel, the execution will consist only in obtaining the vision from the marble, stripping it of any oversize until the image is left free.
This procedure is common to all the sculptural tradition, but Michelangelo goes beyond technical practice. He says, in fact, that the hand is the instrument that mechanically executes the will of the intellect, who cannot have any idea that does not already exist inside the marble in the deep of the stone.
It is, therefore, the idea that lives eternally and that the artist has the task of freeing from matter, struggling with it, with the total commitment of himself, with effort, until he finds it intact. The constant motive of Michelangelo’s art is precisely the struggle of man, imprisoned, oppressed, defeated, to reach an unattainable goal, but towards which we must strive for moral will, to safeguard our dignity. In this sense Michelangelo stands as direct heir of Giotto, Masaccio and Donatello.
First Master Sculpture Work
David one of the great work in Cararra marble by Michaelangelo
The first works created by Michelangelo are some drawings that already reveal an unmistakable personality. Those that have been preserved were considered important by the artist himself. He decided to destroy the others, Among the surviving drawings are some copies of the works of Giotto and Massaccio.
The reason? These two artists had expressed the dignity of man and made their forms volumetrically, revealing them with chiaroscuro and capturing not the inner appearance, but the essence.
The copies did not serve to passively transcribe, but to study, analyze and understand. Michelangelo’s copies are very personal: the chiaroscuro, which follows the pattern of the protrusions and recesses, brings the surfaces to life as well as the chiseling work present in his marbles.
When Lorenzo the Magnificent died, Michelangelo left for Venice, but moved almost immediately to Bologna where he sculpted three small statues: an angel and the saints Petronio and Procolo.
Back in Florence, Michelangelo sculpted a sleeping Cupid. This is the statue that will change the life of the great artist. The man who commissioned the work had buried the statue to give it an aging patina and sent it to Rome. Here it was sold at a price much higher than that paid to Michelangelo. Irritated at being cheated, Michelangelo left for Rome to settle this controversy.
Rome Art Influences
sculptor Apollonios, an artist of the neo-Attic school. It has always been the piece of ancient sculpture most admired by artists right down to the present day. The identity of the figure has been the subject of various interpretations through the centuries. (Photo Vatican by Sailko)
It is the first time that Michelangelo sees Rome, an even more suitable environment than Florence to stimulate his interest in antiquity. “I think there are many beautiful things,” he wrote in a letter a few days after arriving. The Roman period Among the works that most struck the young sculptor was the Belvedere Torso. According to biographers, he stopped almost daily to admire it.
Michelangelo saw in this fragment of Hellenistic sculpture something magical, capable of providing him with interesting food for thought. The same enthusiasm will also have for Laocoon, discovered in the spring of 1506. The first works sculpted in Rome by Michelangelo are not yet affected by the dramatic Hellenistic impetus, but by the serene classical balance. Consider, for example, the Bacchus, in which is evident the use of the contraposto.
What Was The Sculpture Changing Point In History
This beautiful Marble Sculpture was the Changing point in the Sculpture Art in history
If classicism is shamelessly evident in this sculpture, in the Pietà it takes on a different meaning. The theme of “Pietà” had been treated by other artists in past years, but Michelangelo interprets it differently because, although sacred, for him art is not narrative, but an idea.
The Pietta The Sculpture That Change History
The Pietà does not narrate the pain of the mother, does not show the torment of the tortured body of Christ: here Mother and Son reach together the divine perfection.
The statue has a pyramidal shape that culminates in the head of the Madonna. Michelangelo believes that the point of view should be single: the frontal one. For this reason, if the pre-existing figure in the marble is to be extracted from it, this can happen on one side only. The folds of the clothes are intended to bring out the beauty and finesse of the naked body by contrast.
Drawing of the Pieta part of the Boston Museum of art
The perfection of the body of Christ himself and the face of the mother symbolizes the overcoming of earthly features and the achievement of ideal beauty.
This is why it makes perfect sense that the Mother appears to be much younger than the son: according to Michelangelo, Mary’s virginity is expressed through the incorruptibility of the flesh.
Michaelangelo Returns To Florence
In 1501 Michelangelo returned to Florence and sculpted one of his best-known creations: the David.
The statue was obtained from a block of marble already used and left abandoned. Drawing on David, Michelangelo proves once again his thesis, namely that infinite forms exist in the material, among which the artist chooses what he sees and realizes it.
David is the symbol of the Florentine republic which, in the name of freedom, fought tyrants, but is also a symbol of the Renaissance man, author of himself, master of the world around him.
The sculpture shows the sovereign calm that reaches David from the faith in the superiority of the moral force that is within him.
He is not the perfect man according to the Greek conception, but the modern man whose inner qualities are first of all highlighted.
Despite the mold being that of polycystic derivation, we can observe how the sculpted details increase going from the bottom to the top. The head is the fulcrum of the composition because it is the realm of thought, the guide of every human action. Therefore, we cannot say that the work is disproportionate because all of this falls within Michelangelo’s intentions. The hands have a greater size because they are instruments of reason. The hero is gigantic because material greatness symbolizes his moral greatness. He is naked because he is armed only with his own virtue. This is the Porpuse of art.
Why Unfinished works?
At the age of thirty Michelangelo is already considered one of the greatest artists of all time. While sculpting two round marble reliefs, both representing the Madonna and Child with the little Saint John, he begins to sculpt St. Matthew for the Florence Cathedral.
The Rebellious Slave Michaelangelo
The sculpture will not be completed, like many others after it, for a specific reason: the rough block allows only a glimpse of the image that the artist frees from matter. The idea present in his mind is perfect, complete, eternal. The man who has the task of sculpting can only tend towards that idea, but he will never be able to reach it because he is “imperfect” and, consequently, his actions are too.
Could anything perfect ever come from an imperfect being?
This is the principle on which Michelangelo’s pessimism is based. Michelangelo comes to the conclusion that man has a divine spark inside him, he has free will and yet he cannot be a god. Furthermore, we have to consider that unfinished sculpture loses its eternity and immutability, leaving infinite possibilities of solution
And with this we return to the initial concept that inside each block of marble there are infinite shapes, Unfinished sculptures are important because they also help us reconstruct the sculpture procedure adopted by Michelangelo.
Considering St. Matthew, it is possible to notice how Michelangelo starts to extract the shape from the block, starting from the front and then moving backwards making the more protruding parts visible gradually.
The statues for the tomb of Julius II
After the death of Pope Julius II In 1513, Michelangelo sculpted three new statues to be placed next to the tomb of the pope himself: the Rebel slave, the Dying slave and Moses. The two slaves probably symbolize the provinces subjugated by Julius II during war or the dying liberal arts due to the disappearance of the pope himself. However, beyond this symbolism, both express the sense of struggle and defeat.
In Rebel Slave there is an obvious reference to the Laocoon or, rather, Michelangelo’s interpretation of Hellenistic sculpture. Looking at the sculpture, we see that the slave tries to untie the laces by turning his head on one side while the chest is oriented on the other side and the legs are frontal. From these contrasts comes the sense of suffering. The Dying slave also suffers. The beauty of his body, elongated, smooth, proportioned, with a perfect face, makes the consciousness of the end more painful. While supporting the already reclining one arm, the other hand he tries to free his chest for breath.
The Sculpture Of Moses
Moses was one of MichaelAngelo sculptures that portrayed the power of beauty and inspiration in the art world
As for the statues that adorn the sarcophagi, there is a complementarity between detail and detail, between sculpture and architecture and between the statues themselves that only Phidias had reached almost 2000 years before. While Michelangelo is working on the New Sacristy, he also works at the Laurentian Library. The library is made up of two distinct main rooms: the atrium and the reading room. The center of the atrium is almost completely occupied by the staircase, a real jewel of genius and innovation. Its curving steps invite you to climb with a push impressed by the perspective convergence of the lines. We can therefore glimpse a hint of Baroque style that would invade Europe in the following years.
In 1538 Michelangelo began to sculpt the bust of Brutus, a work certainly less popular than the others, but among the richest in content.
Although the iconographic inspiration is ancient, as shown by the drapery fixed by a clip on the right shoulder, the meaning is of a new conception: the sudden turning of the head on the powerful neck, the decisive features of the face, the chiaroscuro surfaces with the grooves left by the chisel, the tight lips, the intent eyes, the slightly wrinkled forehead are all details that express the indomitable courage of the man who fights his battle for the affirmation of his inner freedom, at the cost of difficult and tormented decisions. We know that Brutus even went so far as to kill his father, Julius Caesar, for the salvation of his homeland and Michelangelo wants to highlight all the features of a man who passes with anguish over personal feelings to achieve a greater good.
The last Pietà
While Michelangelo is grappling with the design of Roman public Works, he privately continues to devote himself to sculpture by taking up the youthful theme of the Pietà, creating 3 more; the Bandini Pietà, the Palestrina Pietà and the Rondanini Pietà. “The last Pietas” were created for himself, therefore they represent the mirror of his soul and express his thoughts. According to some, Michelangelo would have carved the three Pietas precisely for his tomb.
In the Bandini Pietà Nicodemus drops Jesus downward, helped by Mary and Magdalene. Nicodemus represents the culmination of the composition, We note that the figure of the Madonna has not been completed, but precisely through this “unfinished” the Son and the Mother return to being one body.
In the Palestrina Pietà the characters are three: Christ, Mary and the Magdalene. As we said about David, even in this case the incorrect proportions are intended to make the viewer focus on a precise symbolic meaning.
The Rondanini Pietà has for protagonists only Christ and the Madonna. Michelangelo still worked on it six days before his death. It represents the last testimony of his thought. Here the bodies of Mother and Son are almost united, tightened in one last embrace, devoid of any physical weight. It is in this work that the process by which Michelangelo has gradually abandoned all classical elements such as proportion, weighting and ideal beauty reaches its climax. Rondanini Pietà summarizes the search for spirituality that Michelangelo had achieved after almost a century of life. All the people closest to him were dead and there was nothing left but pain and loneliness. Michelangelo died on February 18, 1564. His body was secretly transported to Florence to prevent the pope from detaining it in Rome. Rests in peace in the Basilica of the Holy Cross, the mausoleum of the great Italians.