I’m referring, of course, to “Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known simply as Michelangelo . . . the Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance.” Wikipedia
He’s most famous for painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Rome. A feat that took him roughly four years while suspended on scaffolding between 1509 and 1512.
As luck would have it, I visited the chapel a few weeks back on a trip to Italy, where me and about 1000 other people crowded into the barely lit shrine and gawked at the ceiling while two palace guards shouted “SILENCIO!” and “NO PHOTOS!”
It was unnerving . . . in a Da Vinci Code kind of way.
As far as sculpting goes, Michelangelo chiseled the Madonna of Bruges—as well as other marvelous statues—out of crème-colored blocks of granite.
The Madonna of Bruges was stolen by the Nazis and later discovered by the “Monuments Men” in the waning years of World War II. There’s a book under the same title which is a great read. There’s also a movie titled the Monuments Men directed by George Clooney that’s not worth the price of admission.
(Sorry George, but the truthful exploits involving the heroic service of the real monuments men—to include one notable woman named Rosa Valland—is far more interesting than the Hollywoodized version.)
Evidently, Michelangelo was also a poet. I did not know this. What I do know is that like most writers Michelangelo’s not making a dime off his writing, but today’s online booksellers sure are!
Would you follow Michelangelo’s Instagram page?
All this makes me wonder . . . if Michelangelo had a TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram account would he have a huge following?
I mean, Michelangelo lived over 400 years ago. But by the looks of his paintings and sculptures these took about as many years to complete. (At least they’d take me years to complete.) Given that the best way to generate a social media following is by posting good content every day, I doubt Michelangelo could have kept up with the pace. He could have never pumped out a painting, a poem, or a sculpture in a day!
That said, statistics confirm almost 7 million people visited the Vatican in 2019. Many of which traveled specifically to see Michelangelo’s paintings in person. So, I’d say the Renaissance man has a hefty following even today!
Michelangelo’s notoriety is based on the fact that his art is really, really good. Astounding in fact. Patinaed in genius! This is because he took a phenomenally long time to complete his pieces to ensure they were as perfect as possible.
Artists of today have little reason to devote so much time to their crafts. (Unless they work in marble.) This doesn’t mean modern artists are lazy. The reality is, given how much social media has dumbed down everyone’s attention spans, the average viewer has a hard time appreciating the merits of art that takes years to complete.
Was Michelangelo successful because of his devotion to God?
Perhaps it was Michelangelo’s devotion to the divine that inspired him to create the masterpieces he painted, penned, or pulverized with chisel?
Michelangelo spent years crafting his masterpieces, but he also understood the inspirational nature of his work. He felt compelled to create works that not only delighted the senses of the God he sought to please but understood his art could also lead others towards Christianity.
As a humanist and lover of the arts I can appreciate Michelangelo’s skills, although not so much the biblical myths he sought to recreate. Indeed, much of the art produced by him and other bygone artists of Christendom can be characterized as being constrained by the stories emanating from their religious faith.
In contrast, I have a greater appreciation for the reasons that motivate humanists, secularists, and atheists to create. For the modern secular artist is free to express himself anyway he chooses. He is neither constrained by technique or rationale. In fact, his work is likely to be judged not so much by his ability to render lifelike themes with the precision of Michelangelo, but rather by his vision—or lack thereof.
Were I to summarize today’s humanist artists, I say they enjoy the luxury of being inspired by a wide palate of thought-provoking philosophies and ideas about life, and then subsequently channeling these ideas into an artistic vision; a vision that gets more to the heart of what it means to be human then simply recreating a perfect rendition of the human form.
Such as this form of the biblical David also sculpted by Michelangelo, replete with an uncircumcised appendage.