Term Paper: Art History the Clouds Gleamed

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[. . .] "

The Voice now wanted to know more about the materials with which the artists worked, to get a better idea of the mundane aspects of art.

Leonardo," began the Voice, "you are in many ways more versatile a creator than your counterpart before you. You have composed sketches of objects and devices that will not be constructed for hundreds of years. Your knowledge of anatomy is almost as intimate as mine!"

With this last comment, both Michelangelo and Leonardo burst out laughing.

In all seriousness, would you care to comment about your materials of preference, and why? When he is finished answering, Michelangelo, you can answer the same question."

Leonardo began his statement without hesitation. "As you know, so much of my time was spent designing, drawing, and sketching. I left myself little time to complete many of my works as I would have liked to have done. Perhaps my biggest regret is not executing the colossal statue of Galeazzo Maria Sforza. Contrary to what my critics might say, I had every intention of completing the work, which I envisioned as a bronze masterpiece. The terra cotta in which I prepared the model for the statue is a wonderful material with which to create. I enjoy working with that most malleable of mediums.

A must admit, although they leave little impression on the eyes of the beholders, drawings are my favorite means of execution. I realize that many of my sketches do not deliver the visual impact of my paintings, and yet, I feel most comfortable working with pen and crayon because they permit me to be vague. I savor the act of creation more than the finished product, as you well know."

Leonardo da Vinci smiled sheepishly and enigmatically, not unlike his "Mona Lisa." Michelangelo took this as a cue to speak of his own material preferences.

Once I completed the giant statue of David, I knew that marble was my finest companion. The sensuality, the potential for clear renditions of three-dimensional form, the challenge of creating movement out of something so static, these are but some of the reasons why I adore working with marble. Like Leonardo, I also like to create clay models before executing the finished product. However, I must brag that at least I have finished most of the projects that I started."

Leonardo waved off this last remark; he was becoming used to the digs and thought them a sign of ill-hidden admiration and respect for the elder artist.

The Voice now directed a question only to Michelangelo, "Please illuminate for us the experience of working on the Sistine Chapel."

Michelangelo jumped at the opportunity. "Sometimes I thought I would go blind. As Vasari mentioned in his biography of me, I injured my eyes and my neck as a result of that extraordinary effort. However, I began to transcend the pain. It was as if Christ himself was assisting me in this endeavor, which I felt was a direct emanation of God. My hands and my entire body moved not from my own will, but by some higher force."

Tears welled up in the eyes of Michelangelo as he recounted his experience working on the massive fresco of the Sistine Chapel. Leonardo knew that the man was totally sincere. He also knew the feeling of channeling that higher power and therefore did not challenge this assertion.

Michelangelo continued, in a more subdued voice than before. "I believe that Leonardo and I are examples of artist who were willing to sacrifice some personal needs for the sake of honest expression and divine currency. I feel we are currently engaged in this dialogue with the Almighty because we so willingly allowed the Hand of the Almighty to guide our minds and our hands. I will not speak for the both of us, but I do know that Leonardo is as humble in this regard as I am."

Indeed," replied Leonardo. "I struggled throughout my entire career with balancing the needs of the body with that of the soul, as I am sure all artists have. I was not wanting for money, for I had many wealthy patrons, but I was often aware of how my profession set me apart from other people.

I have not had as much privilege to work with Holy men and Popes as you have, Michelangelo. I have also felt scarred by my illegitimate birth, which you suffered not from."

This is true, Leonardo. We both enjoyed the benefits of success during our lives. My sculptures, such as the Pieta, and Moses, were extraordinarily well-received. Both of us were recognized in our early youth as being exceptional talents; we stood out among the crowd and we owe our success as much to our own efforts as to the blessings of the Almighty. I understand that you, Leonardo, caused your first teacher Andrea del Verrocchio, to forever abandon painting, so humbled was he at your genius. Both of us have also come into inevitable conflict with other artists, including each other. Human nature includes jealousy and greed, and of this I am not ignorant." appreciate your insights into this matter," said the Voice to Michelangelo. "We have several newcomers waiting at the Gates and we need to wrap up this wonderful conversation, which I do hope we can continue at some point. Before I close, I would like to complement both of you on demonstrating the highest potential of the human race. I admire you, Michelangelo, most of all because of your ability to render human pain and suffering. I respect you, Leonardo, for your ability to fuse science and art. Neither of you can merely be called artists, for you were indeed divinely guided throughout your careers. I am also pleased that you were able to reach a place of mutual respect; I hope you find your stay in Heaven pleasant. If there is anything you need, let me or one of the Angels know. Oh, and feel free to redecorate your rooms."

Works Cited

Holt, Elizabeth G. A Documentary History of Art. Volumes I & II. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982.

Vasari, Giorgio. "Leonardo Da Vinci: Florentine Painter and Sculptor." Vasari's Lives of the Artists. Ed. Betty Burroughs. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946. 187-197.

Vasari, Giorgio. "Michelangelo Buonarroti: Painter, Sculptor, and Architect." Vasari's Lives of the Artists. Ed. Betty Burroughs. New York:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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