Term Paper: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel

Pages: 5 (1409 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] While there is literal and symbolic meaning in the ceiling's content, it is also significant to consider the reality that the artist experienced to create this masterpiece. What the artist went through as part of the creative endeavor is a noteworthy aspect of the context within which the painting was created.

The paintings on the walls and on the ceiling are widely considered to be the peak of Renaissance art. Most praise goes to Michelangelo's ceiling and Last Judgment on the wall behind the altar. Several popes have had their say in the development of the art in the chapel. In that process, four phases can be distinguished & #8230;The painting of the ceiling took four years. It took its toll on Michelangelo's health: working on his back, an impressive amount of paint must have entered his lungs. But it was certainly worth the effort. After finishing the work in 1512, Michelangelo switched to making sculptures, hardly painting anything until 1536, when he started on the Last Judgment. (Art Bible, 2012)

The ceiling and the chapel, in a way, turned Michelangelo off to painting. While the ceiling is a par exemplar of the high Renaissance, it is also a fine example of how much effort and energy goes into a masterful work of art. Those who are unfamiliar with the creative process may not have a keen awareness of what kind of experience it is for an artist, particularly a great artist, to create a great work. The bodies in the ceiling are both clothed and nude, with a wide variety of poses and facial expressions. All of these details, including the use of color and light, contribute to the context within which the ceiling means and is interpreted.

Pope Julius II was an aggressive pope. He advocated for strict control over the people and the use of symbolism as means for indoctrination and manipulation. Therefore the act of commissioning Michelangelo has a great deal of political implications. Michelangelo was one of the most famous and talented artists of the time. There is a long history around the world and across time of the use of art as means for political communication.

At first, Buonarroti tried to turn down the commission, but in vain. And then, during the realization of the work, that mysterious liking that the artist and the pope had, at bottom, for one another yielded its fruit. Julius II let himself be swayed by Michelangelo's creative frenzy, and both were carried away by their enthusiasm over more and more ambitious plans. So, Michelangelo was given carte blanche: by October 31st, 1512, he had painted over 300 figures on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. (Michelangelo.com, 2012)

Michelangelo initially rejected the commission as he considered himself a sculptor and not a painter. Through vigorous negotiation with the pope, they arrived at a mutual compromise and he took on the job. The pope, in fact, commissioned a number of artists, including Michelangelo, to paint the interior of the chapel. Michelangelo, though, was clearly the most talented and most prominent, and received the greatest creative latitude with respect to the content and composition of the ceiling. Michelangelo created a special kind of scaffolding that enabled him and his assistants to reach the ceiling while standing. They did not paint the ceiling lying down, as rumored or fabled. The ceiling is painted in the style of fresco. This technique added additional challenges and difficulty to the work, besides it being a ceiling that was painted. Overall, the content symbolizes humanity's need for salvation from God and Jesus because of inherent flaws in humanity's character.

References:

Art and the Bible. The Sistine Chapel. 2012, Web, Available from: http://www.artbible.info/art/sistine-chapel.html. 2012 October 07.

Katz, Jamie. The Measure of Genius: Michelangelo's Sistene Chapel at 500. 2009, Smithsonian, Web, Available from: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The-Measure-of-Genius-Michelangelos-Sistine-Chapel-at-500.html. 2012 October 07.

Michelangelo.com. The Sistine Chapel Ceiling. 2012, Web, Available from: http://www.michelangelo.com/buon/bio-index2.html. 2012 October 07.

New World Encyclopedia. Sistine Chapel. 2012, Web, Available from: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Sistine_Chapel. 2012 October 07.

Web Gallery of Art. Michelangelo's Life -- The Mid Years. 2012, Web, Available from: http://www.wga.hu/tours/sistina/index.html. 2012 October 07. [END OF PREVIEW]

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/michelangelo-sistine-chapel-work/8555314.