Thursday, April 30, 2009

Michelangelo the Architect

Michelangelo the Painter

Pope Julius II had originally hired Michelangelo to design and sculpt his papal tomb for St. Peter's. While in the middle of the project, the pope pulled the artist away to "decorate" the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel--the pope's smaller chapel inside the Vatican. The result was one of the greatest frescoes in history. The work is massive--when in the chapel you feel like you are personally INSIDE a work of art. It is truly an inspiring experience. The work itself is a very Renaissance blend of religious images (mostly Old Testament figures and scenes) and classical figures like the Roman sybil at top left. Thirty years after finishing the ceiling, the artists was once again commissioned for a work in the chapel. This time he created the huge "Last Judgment" (above center and top right) that covers the entire wall behind the altar.

Michelangelo the Sculptor

It should very apparent from lecture that Michelangelo is my favorite Renaissance artist (what am I saying, he's my favorite artist of them all!). His family's traditions in stonework led him to the art of sculpting. One of his earliest free-standing works was the Bacchus (two images immediately above at left)--which originally stood in Rome, but now resides in Florence. His "Pieta" (above left), like the "Bacchus," are from the artist's early period. Note the remarkable detail in the folds of the fabric and the face of the Virgin Mary. The statue is part of the collections of the Vatican. The "David" (two images above right) has often been described as the finest piece of free-standing sculpture in the world. The original is now indoors, while a copy has occupied the original site in the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence since the early 20th Century.

Leonardo's and Michelangelos Rival-Raphael

Raphael (a self portrait is at left) was a young rival (though admirer of) both Leonardo and Michelangelo. The latter distrusted Raphael and had the Sistine Chapel locked at night hoping to prevent the younger artist's efforts at "copying." Perhaps Raphael's most famous painting, "The School of Athens" (above left) reveals the Renaissance's use of perspective and light. It also shows the relationship between Raphael and his older contemporary and competitor, Michelangelo. Apparently the dark, brooding figure in the foreground of the painting is the sour (and dour) Michelangelo himself (The two artists were at work in the Vatican at the same time--Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel and Raphael in the pope's library). Raphael also playfully included himself (in the dark beret) on the far right of the work. On the link below, make sure to click on Raphael's works for an enlarged image:
Raphael of Urbino

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo (at left) was a key figure in the Renaissance. In lecture we discussed his use of perspective, blending and naturalism in such works as (from left to right)"The Last Supper," "Mona Lisa," and sketchbook. Indeed, compare these works with the medieval "peasant" painting in the earlier post.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Medieval Peasant Video

Terry Jones (previously of Monty Python's Traveling Circus) presents about a 23 minute look at the life of the Medieval peasant. His goal is to perhaps question some of the more popular assumptions about that age. Give it a look; we'll discuss it in lecture.
Terry Jones and the Medieval Peasant