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Portrait of an Artist MichelAngelo - Essay Example

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History occasionally presents the rare case where the son of a single parent that is raised in poverty rises to reshape the world's concept of itself and man's relationship to the world around him. No historical figure fits this model to a greater degree than the artist Michelangelo Bounarrotui, a world-renowned artist, sculpture, painter, and poet…
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Portrait of an Artist MichelAngelo
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Download file to see previous pages Yet, the spiritual beauty of his art defied his personality as it elevated man to a position closer to his God. Commissioned by Popes and the richest patrons of the time, for 89 years Michelangelo defied his contradictory nature as he channeled his pessimistic sadness and transformed his art into a symbol of hope and eternal optimism.
The works of Michelangelo have been seen by millions of people as a work of transcendental spiritual beauty, but for Michelangelo it was simply the product of his dedication and hard work. Michelangelo had carefully laid the groundwork for his art as a studious young man and a serious artist. He studied painting as a craft, philosophy, and anatomy, which would give him a deeper understanding of the form of man and his role in the creation of the universe. However, at the age of 17 he was faced with being in the commission of Piero dei Medici, a powerful leader that the people of Florence despised. Within two years Michelangelo's dark and individualistic nature caused him to reject the Medici commission and flee to Bologna, which drove the artist further into depression. According to Ruvoldt, "Since antiquity, melancholy's link to exceptional achievement had been seen as small consolation for its considerable drawbacks, including crippling depression" (88-89). These early hardships and setbacks would drive Michelangelo away from social contact and propel him closer to the spiritual nature of Christianity.
Michelangelo would distance himself from the craft and technicalities that his training had given him in favor of searching for the spiritual component of art. He did not wish to be seen as a craftsperson or merely a technician. These were the qualities of man and art was the providence of God. This tension would further drive Michelangelo into the isolation of depression and sadness. A statue carved when Michelangelo was 19 years old, the Bologna Angel, illustrates his frustration with the limitations of man. According to Luchs, "The hands holding the candelabrum curve smoothly around it, waxy and boneless, in a thorough renunciation of the anatomical knowledge Michelangelo had recently and arduously acquired from his dissections at Santo Spirito" (222). At this young age Michelangelo was already tormented by his search for spirituality in a world that was caged with the mortality of man.
One of Michelangelo's greatest works, the Sistine Chapel, embodies the tension between sadness and elation as well as the contrast between isolation and universal unity. Michelangelo did not employ a large staff of apprentices as was often the custom of his time, and chose to complete the task by himself. Michelangelo completed the design, the drawing, and the painting in isolation at the top of the chapel. Yet, the work that Michelangelo did on the Sistine chapel is today viewed by 3 million people that make a pilgrimage to Rome to gain a greater understanding of man as a product of their God (Romaine 23). Yet, this great work of art required the torment of loneliness and the deafening silence that his isolation provided. A committee could not have created it. Michelangelo's melancholy and optimism would be played out through his pen and brush, as the work is a study in the contrast between the mortal failings of man and the perfection of spirituality.
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