February 8, 2010

B is for Buonarrati

Today's "inspiration" is Michelangelo Buonorrati. I have mentioned my obsession with Italy and Michelangelo here and here and this post details the origin of the above painting; which is from one of his sculptures.

And, above are charcoal drawings, both gifts from my son (also the artist). They depict Michelangelo's sculptures at the entrance to the Medici Chapel and are known as Night and Day, Morning and Evening. As Night (female) prepares for sleep, Day (male) begins anew. Exploring the push-pull concepts (life and death, beginnings and endings, male and female) was a common theme repeated throughout his work. He knew from a very early age that he loved art, became an apprentice at age 13 and completed his first sculpture to rave reviews at the tender age of 17. When he began carving The David at age 26, he was already widely recognized as the most talented sculptor in Italy. Have you ever looked at images of Carrara, Italy where he traveled to choose his marble? A breathtakingly beautiful spot!
One detail about his life that I found most interesting is that after painting the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for two years, he took a break that lasted several months. Art historians agree that when he returned from this break, there was a discernible difference in his style. His images seemed less detailed, yet more full of emotion. Why? Did he just need a break? Or did he make changes once he was able to step away and view the work from a new perspective (the floor below)? Or was there something else that happened during his leave that offered a shift in consciousness?
Additionally, his life gravitated to architecture and writing poetry in his later years. He was appointed director of St. Peters and worked there overseeing details of the building right up until a week before his death (which will be 446 years next week). If you have been to Rome and Florence; you can't help but feel his influence and powerful presence on every street corner, in every piazza, every building and doorway.

Much has been written about him, but nothing so compelling as his book of poems. Some focus on Neoplatonic love; a very uplifting view that embraces a universal source in which all things are connected and ultimately reunite; while the latter poems written in his last years are more regretful, wrestling with angst and emotion.

And I could go on and on (and probably will another day) but you get the picture. He was, and continues to be, a huge inspiration and influence on everything I love about art and life. Sometimes when I am stressed to the max, I close my eyes and "look" out over those cliffs of Carrara, and envision him writing his poems there. I can only imagine what it must have looked and felt like in 1501, when he chose the marble for The David, and what a pilgrimage it must have been just to arrive there. But taking in that view surely was the most glorious part of his day-or at least that is how I picture him; perched on a cliff, writing such sentiments as the verse below...

"My eyes eager for beautiful things, and my soul no less for its salvation,
have no other means by which they may ascend to heaven than to gaze on all such things,
from the highest stars descends a shining light which draws our desire to them;
this we here call love.
The noble heart has nothing else that can make it love and burn;
nothing else to guide it,
than a face which in its eyes acts as those stars do."...Michelangelo


Nancy Van Blaricom said...

How nice to have a son who an artist also. Very nice work.

I enjoyed reading about Michelangelo ... I guess I never knew he wrote poetry. Thanks. I think I may need to go to the library and see what I can find. Very interesting.

I remember seeing your "Homage to Bruges Madonna" some time ago.... beautiful.

Gwen Bell said...

Great post! Love the painting and the drawing. You and your son are both such talents!