The Sistine Chapel
Between 1508 and 1512 Michelangelo Buonarroti painted the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. For decades, the grandeur of his work leaves people mesmerized who travel from all over the world to simply catch a glimpse of the fresco. His magnificent painting yielded some of the most extraordinary illustrative images of all time and forever altered the course of artistic endeavors in the Western world. Michelangelo never wanted to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. He was unsettled by the difficulty of the task and made it clear from the start that he resented the project, which had been imposed upon him by the demanding “warrior pope”, Julius II. Since he knew he couldn’t say “no” to the Pope, Michelangelo agreed under the circumstances that he portrayed his painting as he wished. Michelangelo’s painting tells the biblical story of Genesis, beginning with God separating light and dark, progressing to the story of Adam and Eve and concluding with the story of Noah. Scenes from the biblical stories of David, Judith, Esther, and Moses are depicted in the corners, while images of prophets, sibyls, and the ancestors of Christ are set in a painted architectural framework above the windows. Distinct, clear colors brighten and unify the vast surface, and make the details more visible from the floor of the chapel. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel looked to me like something from a dream, in which all the images flow together as a product of Michelangelo’s own thought and perspective. His use of the fresco technique radiates a sense of being in a fantasy. Looking at it felt almost nothing like looking at the real world. Fresco is a method of wall-painting using watercolors on wet plaster. The fresco technique requires that the artist paint a freshly plastered wall which is still necessarily wet to allow the paint to bond chemically so that when the plaster dries the paint combines to the plaster and thus the wall. In order for Michelangelo to paint on the...
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