The next painting is by an artist far from being under appreciated and little known, is almost universally hailed as one of the all time greats. Of course, we’re talking about one and only Michelangelo.
An ongoing preoccupations of mine over recent years has been the study of anatomy, to try to gain an understanding of how the mechanics of the human body, all the underlying muscles, bones and tendons work their magic to bring us to life; All this with a view to being able to work more freely from imagination.
Few if any artists embodied this epic knowledge of the human body like Michelangelo. And thus, it’s no surprise that I, like so many artists before me, have turned to him for guidance and knowledge.
With this in mind the first study I chose one of the figures that adorn the vault of the Sistine Chapel; And this particular character belongs to groupings known as the Ignudi, which I think just means naked figures.
Interestingly, these Ignudi don’t actually seem to represent biblical figures in the narrative, but more likely figures hinting at links to a previous pagan world; Or perhaps as others think these figures serve a more decorative function and compositional device. Either way the mastery of their execution no doubt trumpets Michelangelo’s genius as a painter.
And hear there is a certain irony, for Michelangelo never aspired to being a painter at all, and actually mocked painting as an art form, as compared to his beloved sculpture, which he felt was infinitely superior. There were some remarks by him saying painting, was like a game for children focused as it was on the creation of mere illusions. This led to something of a spat with that other giant of Renaissance Art, Leonardo da Vinci.
And why, one might ask did Michelangelo take on such an epic painting challenge as adorning the Sistine Chapel if he had such contempt for painting to begin with? The answer is that he was given little choice, as it was a personal project of Pope Julius II himself.
Michelangelo did attempt to worm his way out of it, pleading among many excuses that painting wasn’t his area of expertise, and that Raphael would be a far more suitable candidate; However, Michelangelo had already annoyed the Pope on a previous job, and this time the Pope wasn’t inclined to give the artist an out. However, if Michelangelo was reluctant to commit, once he saw the inevitability of his position, he went about throwing all of his creative genius into this monumental task, for now his reputation was at stake, and thus his ego, also monumental in scale, would brook nothing but the creation of a work of art that would establish his primacy as the dominant artist of his age.
As for me, I’m just trying to learn from a master and hoping that a little of his magic will rub off. We can but hope.
And yes they are for sale as this is how I pay my bills:)
Thanks for Reading!