Michelangelo Paintings are just a part of his vast body of work. He was also a sculptor, architect and poet. His versatility earned him the title of the “Renaissance Man”. His prodigious output ensured that he was venerated in his lifetime and beyond it too.
Born to Lodovico di Leonardo di Buonarotti di Simoni, a magistrate and his wife Francesca di Neri del Miniato, he spent his early days in Florence. Much against his fathers wishes he went on to study paintings under Dominico Ghirlandaio. However later in his life he went on to deny having received any kind of formal training in art.
Michelangelo's attitude towards Painting
Michelangelo considered painting to be a lesser art. He found sculpting to be a much more gratifying art. Sculpture indeed was his chosen medium, but that doesn't mean he was less adept at painting. He creations were not only awe inspiring in scale but were incredibly well crafted too.
Some of Michelangelo's paintings are considered to be the best specimen of painting that the world has seen. His frescos were much admired during his time and are revered even more now.
The Creation of Adam - Michelangelo Painting
This fresco on the ceiling of Sistine Chapel was completed in 1511. It depicts the biblical story of God the Father breathing life into Adam, the first man. It is most definitely one of the most recognized pieces of Art and redifined the parameters of Christian Paintings.
The bearded God is powerful and sinewy in this painting. He is surrounded by cherubs and a female figure who is most commonly interpreted as Eve , who is waiting to be conceptualised. God has right arm outsretched to transfer the spark of life to Adam, who has his left hand extended to receive the spark. Famously the two fingers (that of God and of Adam) is separated by a very little distance.
Adam is also a very sturdy and muscular figure, which is typical of Michelangelos men, who were strong and sinewy.
This painting is of course not to be taken literally and is an artist's interpretation of a scene. Adam here is capable of reaching out to God even before receiving the boon of life.
The similarity between the figures God and Adam seems to suggest that god created Man in his own image.
The background drapery of the airborne god is shapped strikinly like a human brain. Medical experst confirm this observation. Michelangelo's study of human anatomy might have helped him in creating such an accurate picture.
Many don't know that the famous index finger of Adam was actually not painted by Michelangelo. It was damaged beyond repair by a crack that appeared in the ceiling in the mid-16th century and was repainted by a restorer.
The Last Judgment - Michelangelo Painting
This massive work was executed between 1535-1541 and it spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. This painting illustrates the second coming of Christ and Apocalypse (the Judgment Day). It is a fresco (a technique where the painting is done when the plaster on the wall is still wet therefore the colors intermingles permanently with the plaster and is permanent).
This painting depicts scenes of incredible suffering as souls of humans rise up and face their fate. It created a lot of controversy between the church and Michelangelo. The Church objected to the graphic violence and nudity. A censorship campaign (known as the "Fig-Leaf Campaign") was started. Pope's own Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, was mightily offended,he said- "it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully, and that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather for the public baths and taverns.
However when the Pope was asked to interven he very wittily said that his jurisdiction did not extend upto hell so the painting will have to remain. The genitalia in the painting was however, later covered the painter Danielle de Volterra.Michelangelo along with his contemporary Florentine painter Leonardo Da Vinci, will remain as the two most important painters of all times. their collective works definitely includes the 50% of the worlds most recognised paintings.