The Significance of Michelangelo's Ignudi

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The Significances of Michelangelo’s
Ignudi

Michelangelo is largely acknowledged for being one of the greatest artist who ever lived. He was a master of many crafts such as sculpting, painting, architecture and engineering. He is widely known for his masterpiece that is The Sistine Ceiling. The ceiling is painted with decorative figures from particular Biblical stories. The most recognizable story is the nine scenes from Genesis that run from the altar to the entrance wall. What’s interesting about these paintings are the twenty Igundi that surround each individual scene. I will being by discussing Michelangelo’s ignudi poses and body structure. Then connecting Michelangelo's fascination with the study anatomy and how a Ignudo figure gives evidence to his interest. The twenty Ignudi figures are unknown, there is speculation about their meaning. Are the Ignudi merely just decorative elements or do they have a deeper significance? Are they Athletes of God, Symbols of Justice and Law or Symbols of beauty?

Over the countless master pieces that Michelangelo produced, he was fixated on the Male body and its youthful dominance. Most of many models that Michelangelo used were youthful men. He would accentuate muscular curvature in the biceps, Forearm, stomach, legs and neck line. Scholars would argue that Michelangelo was homosexual, do to the many nude male figures and sculptures he had created. He rarely showed women as feminine and would use the male figure, such as this Ignudo at the upper left corner of the Drunkenness of Noah (above the prophet Joel). As you can see the only distinction between man and women can be only seen by the breast, hair and genitalia.

Michelangelo was fascinated by the study of anatomy. He began dissections in his early teens, when he joined the court of Lorenzo de' Medici. By his late teens, he conducted his studies by dissecting corpses then later applying what he had learned to his work. This helped him a great deal to show the detail when painting the human male body. Michelangelo was so interested in anatomy, you can see in one of the scenes from The Sistine Ceiling showing The Creation of Adam that the figure resembles the human Brian. I couldn’t help but wonder did Michelangelo apply this to a Ignudo figure as well? Eknoyan, discusses that Michelangelo may have used the same idea that is seen in the Separation of Earth and Waters showing a Ignudo sitting with two separate pillows. Both of theses pillows are seen under the Ignudo’s right and left arm. When looking closely you see that the two pillow resemble Kidneys. The pillows are being held exactly where the human Kidneys are located. “The striking is the facial expression of this singular ignudo, which, in contrast to the serene, thoughtful, surprised, or peaceful facial expressions of the other ignudi, seems to be expressing pain. The uniqueness of the facial expression of this ignudo has been recognized and attributed to “an incoherent fear”.”[1]

The twenty Ignudi in the Sistine are believed to be more Greek than Christian. On the other hand, some speculate that the Ignudi are more consider to be more Christian art. Most of Ignudi are grasping a huge garland of oak leaves. The reasoning behind the large garland is to represent Pope Julius, who commissioned the work who belong to della Rovere family, which Italian means oak leaf’s.

There are many theories to who these Igundi figures are. The twenty Ignudi in the Sistine are believed to be more Greek than Christian and play no role in the Church's narrative.However, some speculate that the Ignudi are more consider to be more Christian art. Most of these Ignudi are grasping a huge garland of oak leaves. One reason for the large garland is that it representing Pope Julius, who commissioned the work who belong to della Rovere family, which Italian means oak leaf’s.

Colin Eisler views on who he believes the Igundi might represent. In The Athlete of Virtue The...
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