Sunday, April 8, 2012

Out Spotlight

Today’s Out Spotlight is a sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. He is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci and recognized as one of the greatest artists of all time. Today’s Out Spotlight is artist Michelangelo.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born March 6, 1475 in Caprese, Italy near Arezzo, Tuscany. Coming from a family of small-scale bankers in Florence, his father, Ludovico di Leonardo di Buonarotto Simoni, failed to maintain the bank's financial status, and held occasional government positions. At the time of Michelangelo's birth, his father was the Judicial administrator of the small town of Caprese and local administrator of Chiusi. His mother was Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena.

Several months after Michelangelo's birth, the family returned to Florence, where Michelangelo was raised. At later times, during the prolonged illness and after the death of his mother in 1481 when he was just six years old, Michelangelo lived with a stonecutter and his wife and family in the town of Settignano, where his father owned a marble quarry and a small farm. Giorgio Vasari quotes Michelangelo as saying, "If there is some good in me, it is because I was born in the subtle atmosphere of your country of Arezzo. Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures."

His father sent him to study grammar with the Humanist Francesco da Urbino in Florence as a young boy, but the young artist, however, showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of painters. At thirteen, he was apprenticed to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. At only fourteen, his father persuaded Ghirlandaio to pay his apprentice as an artist, which was highly unusual at the time. When in 1489 Lorenzo de' Medici, de facto ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for his two best pupils, Ghirlandaio sent Michelangelo and Francesco Granacci.

From 1490 to 1492, he attended the Humanist academy which the Medici had founded along Neo Platonic lines, studying sculpture under Bertoldo di Giovanni. At the academy, both Michelangelo's outlook and his art were subject to the influence of many of the most prominent philosophers and writers of the day including Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Poliziano. During this time, Michelangelo sculpted the reliefs Madonna of the Steps (1490–1492) and Battle of the Centaurs (1491–1492).
The latter was based on a theme suggested by Poliziano and was commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici. While both were apprenticed to Bertoldo di Giovanni, fellow artist apprentice Pietro Torrigiano struck the 17-year-old Michelangelo on the nose, and caused that disfigurement which is so conspicuous in all of his portraits.

Lorenzo de' Medici's death on 8 April 1492 found Michelangelo leaving the security of the Medici court and returning to his father's home. In the following months he carved a wooden crucifix (1493), as a gift to the prior of the Florentine church of Santo Spirito, who had permitted him some studies of anatomy on the corpses of the church's hospital. Between 1493 and 1494 he bought a block of marble for a larger than life statue of Hercules, which was sent to France and subsequently disappeared sometime
circa 18th century. In January 1494, after a heavy snowfall, Lorenzo Medici's heir, Piero de Medici commissioned a snow statue, and Michelangelo again entered the court of the Medici.

That same year, the Medici were expelled from Florence as the result of the rise of Savonarola. Michelangelo left the city before the end of the political upheaval, moving to Venice and then to Bologna. In Bologna, he was commissioned to finish the carving of the last small figures of the Shrine of St. Dominic, in the church dedicated to that saint. Towards the end of 1494, the political situation in Florence was calmer. The city, previously under threat from the French, was no longer in danger as Charles VIII had suffered defeats. Michelangelo returned to Florence but received no commissions from the new city government under Savonarola. He returned to the employment of the Medici. During the half year he spent in Florence he worked on two small statues, a child St. John the Baptist and a sleeping Cupid.

Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty.

Despite his low opinion of painting, he also created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan, the western end being finished to Michelangelo's design, the dome being completed after his death with some modification.

Michelangelo's Pietà, a depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion, was carved in 1499, when the sculptor was 24 years old.

In November 1497, the French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned one of his most famous works, the Pietà and the contract was agreed upon in August of the following year. The contemporary opinion about this work – "a revelation of all the potentialities and force of the art of sculpture" – was summarized by Vasari: "It is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh."

Also while he was back in Florence he was asked by the consuls of the Guild of Wool to complete an unfinished project begun 40 years earlier by Agostino di Duccio: a colossal statue portraying David as a symbol of Florentine freedom, to be placed in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Michelangelo responded by completing his most famous work, the Statue of David in 1504. This masterwork, created out of a marble block from the quarries at Carrara that had already been worked on by an earlier hand, definitively established his prominence as a sculptor of extraordinary technical skill and strength of symbolic imagination. The Statue of David, is one of the most renowned works of the Renaissance. He was 29 years old.

Also during this period, Michelangelo painted the Holy Family and St John, also known as the Doni Tondo or the Holy Family of the Tribune: it was commissioned for the marriage of Angelo Doni and Maddalena Strozzi and in the 17th century hung in the room known as the Tribune in the Uffizi. He also may have painted the Madonna and Child with John the Baptist, known as the Manchester Madonna and now in the National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.

In 1505 Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II. He was commissioned to build the Pope's tomb. Under the patronage of the Pope, Michelangelo had to constantly stop work on the tomb in order to accomplish numerous other tasks. Because of these interruptions, Michelangelo worked on the tomb for 40 years. The tomb, of which the central feature is Michelangelo's statue of Moses, was never finished to Michelangelo's satisfaction. It is located in the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.

During the same period, Michelangelo took the commission to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took approximately four years to complete. According to Michelangelo's account, Bramante and Raphael convinced the Pope to commission Michelangelo in a medium not familiar to the artist. This was done in order that he, Michelangelo, would suffer unfavorable comparisons with his rival Raphael, who at the time was at the peak of his own artistry as the primo fresco painter. However, this story is discounted by modern historians on the grounds of contemporary evidence, and may merely have been a reflection of the artist's own perspective.

He was originally commissioned to paint the 12 Apostles against a starry sky, but lobbied for a different and more complex scheme, representing creation, the Downfall of Man and the Promise of Salvation through the prophets and Genealogy of Christ. The work is part of a larger scheme of decoration within the chapel which represents much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

The composition eventually contained over 300 figures and had at its center nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups: God's Creation of the Earth; God's Creation of Humankind and their fall from God's grace; and lastly, the state of Humanity as represented by Noah and his family. On the pendentives supporting the ceiling are painted twelve men and women who prophesied the coming of the Jesus. They are seven prophets of Israel and five Sibyls, prophetic women of the Classical world.

Among the most famous paintings on the ceiling are The Creation of Adam, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, the Prophet Isaiah and the Cumaean Sibyl. Around the windows are painted the ancestors of Christ.

The fresco of The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Clement VII, who died shortly after assigning the commission. Paul III was instrumental in seeing that Michelangelo began and completed the project. Michelangelo labored on the project from 1534 to October 1541. The work is massive and spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. The Last Judgment is a depiction of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse; where the souls of humanity rise and are assigned to their various fates, as judged by Christ, surrounded by the Saints. In that work, the position of the figure of Christ appears to pay tribute to that of Melozzo's Christ in the Ascension of our Lord, once in the Santi Apostoli, now in the Quirinal Palace.

Once completed, the depiction of Christ and the Virgin Mary naked was considered sacrilegious, and Cardinal Carafa and Monsignor Sernini (Mantua's ambassador) campaigned to have the fresco removed or censored, but the Pope resisted. After Michelangelo's death, it was decided to obscure the genitals ("Pictura in Cappella coopriantur"). So Daniele da Volterra, an apprentice of Michelangelo, was commissioned to cover with perizomas (briefs) the genitals, leaving unaltered the complex of bodies. When the work was restored in 1993, the conservators chose not to remove all the perizomas of Daniele, leaving some of them as a historical document, and because some of Michelangelo’s work was previously scraped away by the touch-up artist's application of “decency” to the masterpiece. A faithful uncensored copy of the original, by Marcello Venusti, can be seen at the Capodimonte Museum of Naples.

Michelangelo designed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, although it was unfinished when he died.

Censorship always followed Michelangelo, once described as "inventor delle porcherie" ("inventor of obscenities", in the original Italian language referring to "pork things"). The infamous "fig-leaf campaign" of the Counter-Reformation, aiming to cover all representations of human genitals in paintings and sculptures, started with Michelangelo's works. To give two examples, the marble statue of Cristo della Minerva (church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome) was covered by added drapery, as it remains today, and the statue of the naked child Jesus in Madonna of Bruges (The Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium) remained covered for several decades. Also, the plaster copy of the David in the Cast Courts (Victoria and Albert Museum) in London, has a fig leaf in a box at the back of the statue. It was there to be placed over the statue's genitals so that they would not upset visiting female royalty.

In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome. As St. Peter's was progressing there was concern that Michelangelo would pass away before the dome was finished. However, once building commenced on the lower part of the dome, the supporting ring, the completion of the design was inevitable.

In his personal life, Michelangelo was abstemious. He told his apprentice, Ascanio Condivi: "However rich I may have been, I have always lived like a poor man." They said he was indifferent to food and drink, eating "more out of necessity than of pleasure" and that he "often slept in his clothes and ... boots,” habits may have made him unpopular. His biographer Paolo Giovio wrote, "His nature was so rough and uncouth that his domestic habits were incredibly squalid, and deprived posterity of any pupils who might have followed him." It didn’t seem he minded, since he was by nature a solitary and melancholy person having a reputation for being “bizzarro e fantastic” because he withdrew himself away.

The appreciation for the nude form had a resurgent in the Renaissance, and fundamental to Michelangelo's art was his love of male beauty which seems to have particularly attracted him both aesthetically and emotionally. In part, this was an expression of the Renaissance idealization of masculinity. But in his art there is clearly a sensual response to this aesthetic.

The sculptor's expressions of love have been characterized as both Neoplatonic and openly homoerotic. One example of the conundrum is Cecchino dei Bracci, whose death, only a year after their meeting in 1543, inspired the writing of forty-eight funeral epigrams, which by some accounts allude to a relationship that was not only romantic but physical as well:

The flesh now earth, and here my bones,

Bereft of handsome eyes, and jaunty air,

Still loyal are to him I joyed in bed,

Whom I embraced, in whom my soul now lives.

Some young men were street wise and took advantage of the sculptor. Febo di Poggio, in 1532, peddled his charms—in answer to Michelangelo's love poem he asks for money. Earlier, Gherardo Perini, in 1522, had stolen from him shamelessly. Michelangelo defended his privacy above all. When an employee of his friend Niccolò Quaratesi offered his son as apprentice suggesting that he would be good even in bed, Michelangelo refused indignantly, suggesting Quaratesi fire the man.

The greatest written expression of his love was given to Tommaso dei Cavalieri, who was 23 years old when Michelangelo met him in 1532, at the age of 57. Cavalieri was open to the older man's affection: I swear to return your love. Never have I loved a man more than I love you, never have I wished for a friendship more than I wish for yours. Cavalieri remained devoted to Michelangelo until his death.
Michelangelo wrote over three hundred sonnets and madrigals, the ones dedicated to him constitute the largest sequence of poems he composed. Some modern commentators assert that the relationship was merely a Platonic affection, even suggesting that Michelangelo was seeking a surrogate son. However, their homoerotic nature was recognized in his own time, so that a decorous veil was drawn across them by his grandnephew, Michelangelo the Younger, who published an edition of the poetry in 1623 with the gender of pronouns changed. John Addington Symonds, the early British homosexual activist, undid this change by translating the original sonnets into English and writing a two-volume biography, published in 1893.

The sonnets are the first large sequence of poems in any modern tongue addressed by one man to another, predating Shakespeare's sonnets to the fair youth by fifty years.

I feel as lit by fire a cold countenance

That burns me from afar and keeps itself ice-chill;

A strength I feel two shapely arms to fill

Which without motion moves every balance.
— (Michael Sullivan, translation)

Late in life he nurtured a great love for the poet and noble widow Vittoria Colonna, whom he met in Rome in 1536 or 1538 and who was in her late forties at the time. They wrote sonnets for each other and were in regular contact until she died. Condivi recalls Michelangelo saying that his sole regret in life was that he did not kiss the widow's face in the same manner that he had her hand.

In a demonstration of Michelangelo's unique standing, he was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive. Two biographies were published of him during his lifetime; one of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that he was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance, a viewpoint that continued to have currency in art history for centuries. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino ("the divine one"). One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, and it was the attempts of subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo's impassioned and highly personal style that resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.

Michelangelo died February 18 1564 in Rome at the age of 88 (three weeks before his 89th birthday). His body was brought back from Rome for interment at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro's last request to be buried in his beloved Tuscany. He was the definition of a Renaissance man and left a legacy of work for the ages.

Happy Easter!!


sass said...

Once again I'm overjoyed to read today's article. TY :) Hope I am still welcome here after my last post. I decided to come over anyway, cause this is a vvv good day, so there.

Please look out for undetected brain damage, undetectable on MRI etc. but detectable via symptomotology. It can happen, especially after Chemo, and it's broken my spirit and heart. What else Oh Lord?

Not too late for this...not yet... Happy Easter and a blessed Passover to all who observe here.
May God bless all of you, whom I have not met but have connected with in so many ways over the years.

Prairie Girl, I know you are mad my son would say...but please…I want some good readings when you have a moment:)

I have often thought about the concept mentioned in yesterday’s article...more often than I care to mention. But then I reflect on the many great closeted Gay actors who gave us all of themselves, heart, spirit and soul, i.e. Montgomery Cliff, Rock Hudson, Errol Flynn and thousands more. I do wish I were well enough to do a search.
Peace of mind with that decision is what counts for all actors who closet is paramount, and of course talent.

And I agree with whomever said last week that this out situation,if it exists, does not belong entirely in Jake’s camp. It takes two to tango. Jake may be holding out until Austin reaches whatever level he wants to reach in that world. Not everyone is as successful as NPH or Matt Boner. Hurry back White Collar!

I'm off to Target…Target in NYC…I’m happier’n a pig in s*it!
later from this crazy ole lady!

My POV said...

Among all the upper tiered movie stars, I think Jake actually is in the best position to come out. He's made all kinds of films, had relative success in various roles and genres, and has had rumors continue to follow him around for years. Honestly, even though he did Prince of Persia and The Day After Tomorrow, he really has only proven himself in indie type productions anyway. End of Watch is a small experimental movie and, if he does, The Double, that also is another small production with personal themes. Not a blockbuster product dependent on bringing in a large mainstream audience. The truth is, somebody has to come out. As long as this vicious cycle continues, nobody will be honest and homophobia will continue to reign.
So I say, why not Jake? He's a proven commodity, has a lot of connections with the new Hollywood and will continue to work. If Hollywood suddenly tried to blackball him, it would be noticed immediately. Frankly, I don’t think Jake is particularly interested in playing mindless leading man roles. He’s really much better in character- driven parts that may have heroic elements, but are not centered upon whether "boy gets girl" in the end. If it’s true that Jake has young children, he has even more reasons to demonstrate the courage and integrity to come out. It's not just about being a role model or being a trendsetter, it's about simply doing the right thing. I don't know anyone who would suggest that raising a family in the closet is a healthy undertaking. Austin needs to buck up too. He seems to like directing and working on TV, both activities that have proven to be far more welcoming regarding living true and having a successful career.

Cloud 9 said...

Very romantic Out Spotlight today.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to everyone at OMG! :)

Special K said...

After my fill of ham and sweet treats, relaxing at friends. I wanted to wish all who celebrate a Happy Easter.

I want to

prairiegirl said...
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Jersey Tom said...

Glad to hear when someone talks about the right thing to do. Someone needs to end the cycle. I dont really think Jake coming out in actually would be up there with a Clooney, Dicaprio or a Will Smith coming out but yes it would be the right thing to do.

Jersey Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seaweed said...


Wishing you better health and increased strength for dealing with your physical challenges. I enjoy your posts and hearing of the things that you find interesting and worthy of comments. Happy Easter!

Jersey Tom said...

It certainly would be hard to imagine Jake coming out without Austin but he could. I dont blame anyone else but Jake anymore. He needs to do the right thing and be a man. A strong man will not be controlled or intiminated by those around him.

Jersey Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jersey Tom said...

Mr. Michelangelo sure had a great talent at recreating the magnificant male form. Wow David is hot.

Mr. Seaweed why do I see on my calender that tomorrow is Easter Monday in Oh Canada

Seaweed said...

B'cause it is my fine Amurican friend. But only government employees, students and teachers get the day off. The rest of us plebians are back to work, if we happeen to have jobs.

Hope your Easter weekend was a good one Mr. Jersey Tom!


sass said...

I always find such kindness when I visit here. I just read today's post again...passionate and romantic... Thank goodness it was put right.

Jersey Tom said...

Seaweed said...
B'cause it is my fine Amurican friend. But only government employees, students and teachers get the day off. The rest of us plebians are back to work, if we happeen to have jobs.

Hope your Easter weekend was a good one Mr. Jersey Tom!


It definitely was Seaweed. Beautiful day in this area. Had diner at a great restaurant with some good friends and came home with a very full tummy:-) Hope yours was also.

Easter pics said...

Daily Mail

Gossip Center:

pic 1

pic 2

pic 3

pic 4

prairiegirl said...

Why thank you, Daily Mail. Those are lovely.

lol. Sit, Ubu, Sit, Gyllenhaals.

prairiegirl said...

I love it. Look who's leading the way.

Front & Center, just so that we're sure to see.


This is awesome. Wonder if this photo op was coordinated over brunch yesterday.

Sit, Ubu, SIT.

MOSES said...

Looks like Maggie's already broken her First Commandment.

oscar nom said...

Jake is doing what he used to do during the Reeke staged photo ops, pretending he is angry, hiding and giving his back to the camera.

prairiegirl said...

Shame on them for using Ramona in those pictures.

Wow. How unreal.

What this family just will not do. Think I've about seen it all now.

pillow said...

MG doesn't even look preggo

tweet said...

@ILNY83 I don't know if Jake Gyllenhaal is sick (I hope not!) or what's going on, but nobody should age this much in ONE year.

scary comparison!

prairiegirl said...

Seriously, that is very sad when you do a side by side comparison like that.

This closet is slowly doing him in. What astounds me is to look at Austin and he doesn't look hardly affected at all. It all shows on Jake.

It's one thing to be happy within the four walls of your home with your kids. I have no doubt he loves his kids and has fun with them when he is with them.

But the thing is, you cannot hide inside your home 24/7.

You still have to go out and function amongst society. And every single day, he and Austin get up in the mornings and they have to think about their agenda for the day.

How am I going to get there? Who do I need to see today and where is their office located? Where are we eating? Looking over your shoulder. What am I going to say in this interview? How am I going to put it? Let's get our stories straight and in sync. How is my stock of green army pants? Where are we going to meet up? Please don't talk to me.

Then look at the effort that goes into photo ops like these Easter pictures. The Yom Kippur.

It just wears on you.