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The Artist who Applied the Glow of the Divine with a Flat Brush: Michelangelo Buonarroti in the Sistine Chapel
- Posted by: Anna Bruno
- Category: Art Education
When you study Michelangelo Buonarroti from the official books, you may not often find it helpful if you are looking for something more than his techniques, superficial iconography, historical context and even his rebellious and sometimes said “hysterical” personality. From those books, it is almost impossible to reach his soul to really grasp what lies behind his artistic choices and decisions, something that remains for the most part unknown.
When an interpretation is officially accepted, it becomes unique, absolute and consequently there is no possibility of comparison. At that point, unfortunately, the creative insights from the inspired researcher risk being lost, as well as those from the artist. Furthermore, centuries after Buonarroti’s death, we find him archived and set apart as divine. And seeing him as divine, in the resulting distance even the beneficiaries of this great artist can no longer truly discuss him. And his deepest thoughts will remain secret until open eyes will unveal them…
Meanwhile, certain geometric shapes, painted on the vault of the Sistine temple, remain a mere necessity to lighten the overly military-style architecture and the trompe l’oeil effect is a simple choice of style, or a solution of convenience. However, those forms and trompe l’oeil effect in the Sistine Chapel, in all their exuberance, tell their own story…
The trompe l’oeil effect, in particular, was the artist’s willingness and conscious choice to bring Jacob’s dream back to the visitor’s third eye. Anyone’s third eye never stops at the surface when it is open! And here it is asked to go further and follow the trompe l’oeil effect which will become that famous staircase of Knowledge for it. A staircase where the Angels go continuously up and down…
For many years, the “cantors” of the official concepts of Christ’s pre-figuration, have preferred to show off their ‘right’ knowledge, rather than questioning about it. So they have confined to the oc-cult what was a cult for our great master: taking care of his own spiritual path towards the universal divine. And secretely also through the Jewish sacred textes.
After furious arguments with his authoritative father, the thirteen-year old Michelangelo was taken to Florence where he started his apprenticeship at Ghirlandaio’s workshop. Unfortunately, as it may happen between a teacher and a disciple, there must have been no harmony between the two. Indeed, no sign of Michelangelo’s hand has never been found on Ghirlandaio’s paintings, nor will our artist ever become passionate with the art of painting.
It was at Bertoldo’s workshop, however, that he felt free of chiselling “away at the unnecessary”: as it is only when the spirit experiences of the physical that it can enter in harmony with it!
Of course at such a young age, our artist could not really be aware of all what it was going to happen to him. He only felt the impulse of hitting on that piece of stone, the life energy of which would have made his fairy tale would start. And he was right! He gradually discovered himself as an Initiate through a heuristic process. From his own intuition and feelings, he moved on to a lively Neoplatonic education, and later through a long difficult historical and political period, under Pope Sixtus IV and his personal grudge against the Medici family, or the horrible years of Savonarola dictating in Florence, or the time of the Pope Julius II and his time working in the Sistine chapel, that he lived as a stretch. But it was in the Sistine chapel that he reached his awareness in life leading him up to his unfinished artworks….
Michelangelo had certainly a complex personality like any pursuer of his own insight, always projected towards the universal Divine. And this thanks of his own feelings and thoughts but also thanks to what he was conveyed by his masters, Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. Michelangelo was a humanist artist and the German bishop Nicolò Cusano’s wish of bringing the Divine of the Medieval era back to earth was certainly his own.
The famous theologian Cusano died in 1464. Michelangelo was born 11 years later. And secretely, after a few years only, at his own risk, he transformed his masters’ and famous theologian’s pen into a chisel and a flat brush in honor of the Sistine chapel.
We will continue our story as scheduled next Saturday. Hereunder the link with all the meeting between November and January: https://www.periegeta.it/events/seeing-beyond-borders-our-paths-to-the-divine-through-art-my-cultural-meetings-between-november-2020-and-the-end-of-january-2021/