Category: Religion & Sprituality Posters

College Humor – Jesus Joined the Faithbook

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College Humor - Jesus Joined the Faithbook

campus ministry, college culture, college posters, faithbook, jesus faith, praise and worship, religion and sprituality

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Artist and Mystic Experience

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Artist and Mystic Experience

Now these are precisely the points of view which the teacher of religion also is constantly seeking to induce. He too calls people from their pursuits and practical ambitions to enjoy the communions of the spirit. He also summons men to leave off for a moment their doing that they may devote themselves to seeing. He also is persuaded of the inadequacy of mere thinking, claiming the possibility of a more nearly immediate experience of reality.

If this is anything like the truth, it is a strange thing that the professional schools for priests and prophets abundantly supply instruction that is intellectual and moral while very meagerly offering any tutelage of the imagination or any instruction in the discipline and development of the emotional career or in the technique whereby the minister of religion may become a proficient master in these areas. This will one day be changed so that every trained leader of religion will be more aware of the universal hunger for beauty and more capable of utilizing this almost unlimited asset for the religious ends of his task.

We are accustomed to thinking that the world of religion is willing to recognize this kinship with the world of the arts more readily than is the critic of the arts. The contrary is true. One is more likely to find the language of religion in the writings of the art world than to discover an equal intelligence amongst religious writers concerning the critique of the arts. When Bernard Bosanquet says that “the mind of man has its own necessity, which weaves its great patterns on the face of the whole world. And in these patterns–the pattern of life itself–the fullest feeling finds embodiment,” he is discussing the impulse and the necessity of the artist toward the same experience as the mystic.

Artist and Mystic Experience

William Temple in discussing some of the noblest works of art, writes: “In the presence of such transcendent Beauty, we realize the hope of mysticism. In a single impression we receive what absolutely satisfies us, and in that perfect satisfaction we ourselves are lost. Duration vanishes; the Now these are precisely the points of view which the teacher of religion also is constantly seeking to induce. He too calls people from their pursuits and practical ambitions to enjoy the communions of the spirit. He also summons men to leave off for a moment their doing that they may devote themselves to seeing. He also is persuaded of the inadequacy of mere thinking, claiming the possibility of a more nearly immediate experience of reality.

If this is anything like the truth, it is a strange thing that the professional schools for priests and prophets abundantly supply instruction that is intellectual and moral while very meagerly offering any tutelage of the imagination or any instruction in the discipline and development of the emotional career or in the technique whereby the minister of religion may become a proficient master in these areas. This will one day be changed so that every trained leader of religion will be more aware of the universal hunger for beauty and more capable of utilizing this almost unlimited asset for the religious ends of his task.

We are accustomed to thinking that the world of religion is willing to recognize this kinship with the world of the arts more readily than is the critic of the arts. The contrary is true. One is more likely to find the language of religion in the writings of the art world than to discover an equal intelligence amongst religious writers concerning the critique of the arts. When Bernard Bosanquet says that “the mind of man has its own necessity, which weaves its great patterns on the face of the whole world. And in these patterns–the pattern of life itself–the fullest feeling finds embodiment,” he is discussing the impulse and the necessity of the artist toward the same experience as the mystic.

William Temple in discussing some of the noblest works of art, writes: “In the presence of such transcendent Beauty, we realize the hope of mysticism. In a single impression we receive what absolutely satisfies us, and in that perfect satisfaction we ourselves are lost. Duration vanishes; the’moment eternal’ is come. The great drama proceeds; the music surges through us; we are not conscious of our own existence. We hear and see; and when all is done, we consider and bow the head.”S * He is writing as an art critic but in the language of religion. Again in discussing one of the lectures of Mr. Arthur Balfour, he writes: “The past and the future vanish; space itself is forgotten: whether or not mysticism is, as Mr. Balfour fears, the only possible philosophy of art, it is beyond question that the aesthetic experience is a purely mystical experience; that is to say, it is the direct and immediate apprehension of an absolutely satisfying object.”

I have somewhere read in a writing of Archdeacon Freemantle, the following: “Art becomes a binding link between men and draws them together toward God. It forms a society which must properly be called a Church. Its yearning toward the ideal is worship, a prayer. The sharing in artistic impressions is a genuine form of worship. It is destined to occupy no mean place in the full redemption of human life.”

The religious feelings relate to life as a whole. They are the response of man to the presently realized existence of divinity. They reach out to grasp the Universal and the Absolute. The feeling for beauty is usually not universal. But it is a feeling for being, for that which has existence. Every work of art says, Notice this fact, this bit of life: be a lover of life as you see it here. Religion says, Be a lover of Life as a Whole, God’s Life, love God. There is a profound identity of attitude between these two.

Religion is not merely thinking and feeling, it is also right doing. The moral issues of religion are ever the concern of healthy human life. We will have nothing to do with a religion which is ineffective in the practical world or weak in its increasing enthusiasm for a thoroughgoing application of its ideals to every phase of life, industrial and political as well as personal. These are the vast problems of the hour. We shall have no future religion at all if they are not manfully and courageously handled.

It is too commonly assumed that at this point the arts must part company with religion. Many have felt that to be interested in Beauty while the world is suffering from inhumanity is an ignoble thing. Unfortunately, both the conduct of artists in general and many critics of the arts have tended to foster such a view. Mr. Merton Stark Yewdale sets forth a correct note on the expressive desire of the aesthetic experience and then completely spoils the picture by separating that experience from practical life.

“We have a sensation of an enhanced power, a compelling desire to rid ourselves of a certain state of tension, eagerness to reciprocate the force which the artist exerts toward us.”So far so good. Then something extremely bad: “As our faculties are again assembled we see once more that life is the great delusion and Art the supreme counter-agent to existence.”

How could anyone write that who had ever read Emerson’s “Compensation”? There are in fact no real barriers between the world of Art Life and the world of Common Life. The artist marks off a bit of the world and harmonizes it and sees that it is good or beautiful. Religion rises to see that all creation is good. It will admit no barriers. It would glorify all life.

The very nature of artistry is activity. Works of art are described as creations. Whatever may be said about the appreciation of Beauty, art is the production of Beauty. Artistry is expression, release, liberation, outgoing effort, authorship, origination. Its results are not called thoughts of art or feelings of art but works of art.

And the artist not only creates new forms of material beauty but also new persons. The very essence of the thing that happens to people when they are impressed by beauty, either of nature or of art, is increased vitality. They are literally remade, increased in strength of body and strength of mind.

Still a third practical effect of the artist’s work is the result in the world of the enhanced power developed in the aesthetic experience. This is the point least clearly intimated by writers on the subject, and denied by many. It is the point of disagreement with Mr. Yewdale. Even Professor Hocking in his profound discussion of art and religion in the volume, “Human Nature and Its Remaking,” does not sufficiently get away from his suggestion that the world of art is an arena in which man may make his conquests more easily than in the world of fact.

“Art is the region which man has created for himself, wherein he can find scope for unexpressed powers, and yet win an absolute success, in testimony of his own reality… It has but feeble contact with the more pressing problems of the ‘common man.’ It fits no one for dealing with the as yet unharmonized aspects of experience. Its tendency would be to seclude itself, build for itself high garden walls, and in the midst of a world small enough to be perfectly controlled, forget the ugly, the squalid, the disordered, the just causes for warfare and rebellion.”

There are undoubtedly many facts which bear out this view. And with the facts coincides the oft-repeated description of the experience of beauty as being a feeling of power coupled with the paradoxical feeling of repose, a sense of great energy but of no demand to exercise it. The aesthetic moment is by everyone described as the moment of perfect satisfaction.

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Religion Art: Adam, Eve and That Famous Apple

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Religion Art: Adam, Eve and That Famous Apple

Apart from narrative images, portraits of Adam and Eve are not common. Those one does find are likely to be nude sculptures of the first parents in their prelapsarian state – attractive young adults, as in the statues at right or this one from Notre-Dame de Paris or this willowy Eve at Autun.

Narrative images are seen in six different categories as follows.

The Creation of Adam and Eve

In the first account of creation God makes “man” in his image and likeness, “male and female” (1:26-31). In the second Adam is created from mud and Eve from Adam’s rib (2:7, 21-22).

The creation of Adam is seen in some Genesis sequences, for example the reliefs on the façade of Orvieto Cathedral and the mosaic sequence at the cathedral in Monreale, Sicily. We see the creation of Eve as early as a 4th-century Roman sarcophagus, where she is created by one of the earliest images of the Trinity. In the sarcophagus relief Eve is already standing by the side of the sleeping Adam, but later works such as the 12th-century mosaics at Monreale Cathedral and Palermo’s Palatine Chapel and the reliefs on the 14th-century façade of Orvieto Cathedral all show her emerging from Adam’s ribcage or torso.

Eve’s creation seems to be a more popular subject than Adam’s. In a 13th-century Swiss manuscript page with a medallion for each day of creation, the sixth day has God creating a human who is almost certainly Eve.

In modern illustrations the Creator will often be an old man with a beard, but in all the images mentioned here he is visualized as the Son, not the Father. The Son, who was to become incarnate as the man Jesus, is the “Word” of John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God and the Word was God.… And the Word was made flesh.” At least as early as the 2nd century Christian writers extended this to imply that it was the Son who interacted with Adam and Eve in the garden, and the artists followed this cue.1

Religion Art: Adam, Eve and That Famous Apple

The Fall of Man

In Genesis 3:1-8 the serpent persuades Eve to eat fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God had forbidden. Eve then gives some of the fruit to Adam and they immediately realize they are in big trouble. From the earliest times Christian writers identified the serpent with what Revelation 12:9 calls “that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world.”

The iconography of this narrative is exemplified in the second picture at right. This iconographic type has been in use since at least the 4th-century and has experienced little change. The couple stand on either side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, with Adam usually on the left. The serpent coils around the trunk of the tree, which carries fruit. Eve will be variously reaching for the fruit, taking it, and/or passing some to Adam. The couple is sometimes shown completely naked when they take the fruit, as stated in Genesis 2:24 and illustrated in the second picture at right. But most artists either pose them so as to preserve modesty (example) or simply neglect to include the genitalia (example).

Before the Gothic era the serpent was just a generic snake, but in the mid-12th century Peter Comestor wrote that there is a certain species of serpent that has the face of a young girl, and that Satan had chosen to use that kind of serpent to beguile Eve because “like heeds like.”3 This claim was repeated by subsequent commentators, the putative species acquired a name (“Draconcopedes”), and by the early 13th century female faces started to appear on the serpent.4 The earliest may be this relief at Amiens. By the 14th and 15th centuries they become quite common (example). The most illustrious example is Michelangelo’s panel on the Temptation in the Sistine Chapel.

God Confronts the Couple and Expels from Paradise

After they eat the fruit the couple realize they are naked and make themselves garments of fig leaves. These are almost always represented as single leaves covering the genitals, as in the third picture at right, where we see God confront them. The confrontation is less common in the art than the actual expulsion from Eden, in which God “cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims and a flaming sword turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). The images usually have an angel do the casting out, as in the fourth picture at right. That picture also portrays the “garments of skins” (3:21) that God made for the couple. These vary in the art, sometimes taking the form of shaggy tunics as at right and sometimes more leather-like as in this sarcophagus relief.

The fourth picture at right portrays a Cherub in addition to the angel, but that is much less common in the art.

The Assignment of Labors

As part of their punishment God tells Adam he will have to work to eat: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (3:19). The point is repeated a few verses later: “The Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken” (3:23). In the 8th century Bede commented on 3:19 that the curse of work applied to Eve as well (In Pentateuchum Commentarii, col. 213), and she has always been included in images of God’s assigning labor to mankind.

There have been two ways of looking at the curse. One was to see it as a plain hardship, as in this 12th-century relief where Adam and Eve bend sadly over a little hillock with their hoes, or this mosaic where Eve looks up disconsolately from her spinning. (The stereotypically female task of spinning thread is the one most commonly given to Eve in images of this kind.)

The other way of looking at the curse is to accentuate the positive. Sarcophagi of the 4th century, for example, symbolize the assignment of labor to the couple by showing Adam with a sheaf of wheat and Eve with a lamb (example). The sheaf represents the fruit of Adam’s labor. The lamb refers to the task of spinning, but with an emphasis on the lamb’s closeness to Eve and possibly a reference to the “lamb of God” that will be borne by Eve’s counterpart, Mary. A catacomb painting from the same century seems to show the couple’s progression from wearing animal skins to the more comfortable life that results from the labors God has assigned.

We see this optimism again in the Middle Ages in this example of domestic contentment in Adam’s family and in Bede’s remark that Adam “…was sent out from the paradise of bliss ‘to till the earth,’ that is, to labor in the body and gain for himself the merit to return to life, which is what the name of Paradise signifies, and be able to touch the tree of life and live forever” (ibid., col. 215, my translation). In the early sarcophagi this optimistic emphasis is so strong that the sculptors almost invariably place the sheaf of wheat in the scene of eating the fruit, as in this sarcophagus. There is another sarcophagus that puts both the sheaf and the lamb in the picture.

Adam Pictured at the Crucifixion

Medieval and earlier images of the Crucifixion sometimes include Adam in a coffin below the base of the cross (example). This is to remind the viewer that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:22), a point especially stressed in this manuscript illumination, where Adam holds a chalice to collect the blood falling from Jesus’ body on the cross.

The Anastasis or Harrowing of Hell

In “Anastasis” or “Harrowing of Hell” images the risen Christ rescues the souls of those who were faithful in the years before the Redemption. Adam and Eve are always the first of these. In western images they may be naked (example); in eastern ones they will be clothed (example).

adam and eve, adam and eve posters, christianity posters, biblical figures, renaissance art, old testament figures, religion and spirituality, decorative art prints

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Baroque Art: Noble subjects, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes

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Baroque Art: Noble subjects, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes

Baroque in art and architecture, a style developed in Europe, England, and the Americas during the 17th and early 18th cent. The baroque style is characterized by an emphasis on unity among the arts. With technical brilliance, the baroque artist achieved a remarkable harmony wherein painting, sculpture, and architecture were brought together in new spatial relationships, both real and illusionary, often with spectacular visual effects.

Although the restrained and classical works created by most French and English artists look very different from the exuberant works favored in central and southern Europe and in the New World, both trends in baroque art tend to engage the viewer, both physically and emotionally. In painting and sculpture this was achieved by means of highly developed naturalistic illusionism, usually heightened by dramatic lighting effects, creating an unequaled sense of theatricality, energy, and movement of forms. Architecture, departing from the classical canon revived during the Renaissance, took on the fluid, plastic aspects of sculpture.

Baroque Painting

Painters and sculptors built and expanded on the naturalistic tradition reestablished during the Renaissance. Although religious painting, history painting, allegories, and portraits were still considered the most noble subjects, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes were painted by such artists as Claude Lorrain, Jacob van Ruisdael, Willem Kalf, and Jan Vermeer.

Caravaggio and his early followers were especially significant for their naturalistic treatment of unidealized, ordinary people. The illusionistic effects of deep space interested many painters, including Il Guercino and Andrea Pozzo. Other baroque painters opened up interior spaces by representing long files of rooms, often with extended views through doors, windows, or mirrors, as in the works of Diego Velázquez and Vermeer.

Color was manipulated for its emotional effects, ranging from the clear calm tones of Nicholas Poussin, to the warm and shimmering colors of Pietro da Cortona, to the more vivid hues of Peter Paul Rubens. A heightened sense of drama was achieved through chiaroscuro in the works of Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Carracci and Poussin portrayed restrained feeling in accordance with the academic principles of dignity and decorum. Others, including Caravaggio, Rubens, and Rembrandt depicted religious ecstasy, physical sensuality, or individual psychology in their paintings.

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Vishnu: The Supreme God in the Hinduism

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Vishnu: The Supreme God in the Hinduism

Vishnu is the Supreme God in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God.

The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu as Paramatma (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within. Vishnu governs the aspect of preservation and sustenance of the universe, so he is called ‘Preserver of the universe’.

In the Puranas, Vishnu is described as having the divine colour of water filled clouds, four-armed, holding a lotus, mace, conch (shankha) and chakra (wheel). Vishnu is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a ‘Universal Form’ (Vishvarupa) which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination.

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Samadhi: Non-Dualistic State of Consciousness in Buddhism

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Samadhi: Non-Dualistic State of Consciousness in Buddhism

Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.

It has been described as a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object, and in which the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated though the person remains conscious. In Buddhism, it can also refer to an abiding in which mind becomes very still but does not merge with the object of attention, and is thus able to observe and gain insight into the changing flow of experience.

In Hinduism, samādhi can also refer to videha mukti or the complete absorption of the individual consciousness in the self at the time of death – usually referred to as mahasamādhi.

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The Tibetian Wheel of Life

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The Tibetian Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life symbolizes the Tibetan Buddhist perspective on life and it contains many themes and symbols of Buddhist teachings.

The creature turns the wheel of life and it holds in its claws is Yama, a wrathful deity and the Lord of Death. Yama symbolizes the inevitability of death, samsara and the impermanence of all things. This does not lead to despair, however, because outside of the wheel is the Buddha, who shows the way to liberation (symbolized by the moon).

The inner circle of the wheel contains symbols of the three root delusions: hatred (snake), ignorance (rooster), and greed (pork).

The ring around the center is the karma, with the numbers on the left to climb to more realms of existence because of virtuous actions, and the numbers on the right descending to the lower realms of existence because of bad deeds or ignorant.

The central ring of the wheel (the areas between the spokes) symbolizes the six realms of existence. The upper half, left to right, represent the three highest spheres of life: humans, gods and demigods. The bottom half shows the three lower realms of existence: animals, hell beings and hungry ghosts.

The outer ring represents the 12 original dependent relationship, as follows:

Right next to the upper part is a blind man with his cane, which is ignorance of the true nature of the world.

Moving clockwise, a potter molding a pot symbolizes that we shape our own destiny with our actions throughout the operation of karma.

Monkey climbing a tree represents consciousness or mind, which wanders aimlessly and out of control.

Consciousness gives rise to name and form, which is symbolized by persons traveling in a boat on the river of life.

The next link is an empty house, doors and windows that symbolize the sense organs in development. Buddha has six senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch and thought.

The six senses allow us to have contact with the world, which is symbolized by lovers embracing.

Contact born of feeling, which we classify as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Feelings are represented on the wheel like an arrow piercing the eye.

Feeling born of desire or attachment to pleasant feelings and experiences, symbolized by a couple falling in love or drinking man.

Desire or attachment leads to grasp for an object of desire, symbolized by a monkey picking fruit.

Capture the existence arises, represented by a man and woman making love.

Existence culminates in the birth (entry into the human realm), which is symbolized by a woman in childbirth.

Birth naturally leads to aging and death, which is symbolized by an old man carrying a burden.

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Religion Art: Adam and Eve After the Expulsion from Paradise

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Religion Art: Adam and Eve After the Expulsion from Paradise

The Renaissance, in the largest sense of the term, is the whole process of transition in Europe from the medieval to the modern order. The Revival of Learning, by which is meant more especially the resuscitated knowledge of classical antiquity, is the most potent and characteristic of the forces which operated in the Renaissance. That revival has two aspects.

In one, it is the recovery of a lost culture; in another, of even higher and wider significance, it is the renewed diffusion of a liberal spirit which for centuries had been dead or sleeping. The conception which dominated the Middle Ages was that of the Universal Empire and the Universal Church. A gradual decadence of that idea, from the second half of the thirteenth century to the end of the fifteenth, was the clearest outward sign that a great change was beginning to pass over the world.

From the twelfth century onwards there was a new stirring of minds, a growing desire of light; and the first large result was the Scholastic Philosophy. That was an attempt to codify all existing knowledge under certain laws and formulas, and so to reconcile it logically with the one Truth; just as all rights are referable to the one Right, that is, to certain general principles of justice. No revolt was implied there, no break with the reigning tendencies of thought. The direct aim of the Schoolmen was not, indeed, to bind all knowledge to the rock of St Peter; but the truth which they took as their standard was that to which the Church had given her sanction.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, when Scholasticism was already waning, another intellectual movement set in. This was Humanism, born in Italy of a new feeling for the past greatness of Rome. And now the barriers so long imposed on the exercise of the reason were broken down; not all at once, but by degrees. It was recognised that there had been a time when men had used all their faculties of mind and imagination without fear or reproof; not restricted to certain paths or bound by formulas, but freely seeking for knowledge in every field of speculation, and for beauty in all the realms of fancy.

Those men had bequeathed to posterity a literature different in quality and range from anything that had been written for at housand years. They had left, too, works of architecture such that even the mutilated remains had been regarded by legend as the work of supernatural beings whom heathen poets had constrained by spells.

The pagan view was now once more proclaimed, that man was made, not only to toil and suffer, but to enjoy. And naturally enough, in the first reaction from a more ascetic ideal, the lower side of ancient life obscured, with many men, its better aspects. It was thus that Humanism first appeared, bringing a claim for the mental freedom of man, and for the full development of his being. But, in order to see the point of departure, it is necessary to trace in outline the general course of literary tradition in Europe from the fifth century to the fourteenth.

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Michelangelo and Sistine Chapel Artworks

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Michelangelo and Sistine Chapel Artworks

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco is both a masterpiece and the object of one of the fiercest-ever campaigns about morality and decency. The unveiling of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco in 1541 revealed a masterpiece and a colossal scandal. Michelangelo di Ludovico Buonarroti Simone was a sculptor, architect and engineer and considered painting a lower form of artistic representation; for this reason he considered Pope Julius II’s commission to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1506 in Saint Peter’s Basilica a humiliation. He nevertheless agreed and signed the contract of his life with the Catholic Church.

The Making of a Masterpiece: Perfection Was Not Enough

The maestro spent endless hours on a scaffold (which he engineered himself) almost 20 meters in the air and worked incessantly from 1508 to 1512 under less-than-ideal conditions. Natural light was poor and the only artificial light available were dozens of burning candles, and because the ceiling plaster had to be a fresco (created in damp plaster), wet paint was constantly dripping on Michelangelo.

The work was daunting, but Michelangelo was no common mortal. It was customary to work with one or more assistants for large projects, but he went solo with the massive project after dismissing six assistants he had summoned from Florence to help him with the fresco technique. He was not satisfied with the work they had begun, and, having seen everything he needed to know, he liquidated them and worked in solitude until the project was completed. Through the affresco technique of the time, Michelangelo single-handedly painted the doctrine of the Catholic Church on the 1,100 square-meter chapel ceiling. From 1508 to 1541 he painted some 300 figures illustrating narrative scenes from the Book of Genesis to the Last Judgment.

He worked longer than was expected of him, much to his and the pontiff’s frustration. For Michelangelo, perfection was not an option – for the pope it was a matter of life and death. Pope Julius II didn’t live to see Michelangelo’s work. He was succeeded by Pope Leo X who was shortly succeeded by Pope Clement VII who commissioned the Maestro with painting the Last Judgment on the altar of the Sistine Chapel. But time also ran out for Clement VII and he died before seeing the finished work. Pope Paul III oversaw the work which commenced in 1536 and was finished in 1541 with the Last Judgment.

What should have been Michelangelo’s shining moment became his darkest hour. A scandal descended upon the Vatican when the work in the Sistine Chapel was finally unveiled. Michelangelo’s heaven had no rage nor hell had fury like the Vatican’s wrath. Saints and sinners with nothing on but their skin were scattered across the sacral walls and ceiling, the fresco seemed “better suited to a bathroom or roadside wine shop than to a chapel of the Pope.”said at the time a papal master of ceremonies. The maestro’s skill in anatomy was aparent in all its glory. The unclad figures resembled classical pagan gods and there was little if anything of the canonical biblical figures gracing the walls elsewhere in the Vatican.

Michelangelo did not seek inspiration from the established representations of sacral art of the time but from infinite readings and interpretations of the Old Testament His humanist upbringing had been shaped in the milieu of the de Medici humanist academy in Florence. The nude figures had a symbolic meaning that was largely misunderstood by Church officials who called the artist “inventore delle porcherie” (inventor of obscenities). Michelangelo’s artistic output reflected a reconciliation between Christian theology and classical rationalism. There was no room in Michelangelo’s heaven and hell for clothes but only for souls awaiting their fate.

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Michelangelo, Fiorentine and Renaissance Art

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Michelangelo, Fiorentine and Renaissance Art

For Michelangelo was a Florentine, and many of the major episodes of his life took place in the very buildings and squares. Nearly half of the statues made by Michelangelo now stand in Florence: at the Academia, in the Medici Chapel, in the Casa Buonarroti (Michelangelo’s family name being Buonarroti), in the Duomo, and in the Bargello. A painting of his hangs in the Uffizi Galleries. When you have read the fascinating background of these masterpieces, which is related to the turbulent times of Renaissance Florence, you’ll receive an unparalelled thrill from seeing them before your very eyes.

Anyone going up to the Piazzale Michelangelo should also see the lovely Romanesque church, San Miniato al Monte; it and the seven Michelangelo statues in the San Lorenzo Chapels were the high points of an an entire trip.

We found nearly every shop was also a small factory, particularly in San Croce Square, where we spent the day watching mosaics, leather, silver and ceramics craftsmen at work. This cost nothing: you are shown the working processes in the hope you’ll later buy something in the retail display room-just as in Murano.

Don’t miss the view of Florence from the top of the Cathedral of Santa Karia del Fiore. Climb to the cupola on top of tpe Duomo. It’s 436 steps up, but the view is well worth it.

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