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Friday, September 5, 2014
Michelangelo, Davinci and Zen in European Classical Architecture and Art,
The Zen Buddhist Master once asked the disciple if they were to meet the Buddha, what would they do?
The young apprentice asked the pertinent question is this Buddha the man, or Buddha the god?
To which the Zen Buddhist Master replied loudly, "You are missing the entire point, if one day you meet the Buddha, you must immediately kill him! For there is no Buddha, he exists only in the quagmire of your mind!
Kant spoke often of the beauty of the overwhelming…of the immense scale of nature. We can find beauty in the most obscure and unusual places. A piece of lichen growing on a mattress.
Regardless of where and which generation we were raised, our own historical background and future are forever an estimation for we have but memories and dreams, but little else save a few historical artifacts and art objects ( photos - we are all fascinated with history ancient or otherwise and particularly our own mortality. The images above show the beauty and horror of impermanence. As humans we fear death and seek solace often with religious institutions to help us, the living, deal with death that we see around us and ultimately our own deaths which will someday most likely arrive. The beauty of art whether photos of decaying architecture - the most "immortal" and long lasting of the arts, is that is makes us deal with the beauty of life and at times the ability to capture that beauty and freeze it in time. Other times art can make us face our own mortality - either way the
Michelangelo was only 24 years old, when he finished his masterpiece: Piéta. It is held as his finest work and probably is one of the most referred and studied work of the Renaissance.
The statue was commissioned by Cardinal Jean de Billheres, who aimed it as a decoration on his funeral monument. Originally it was placed in the chapel of Santa Petronilla, and only after the rebuilding of the Saint Peter Basilica by Bramante was it set up in the first side chapel, on the right hand side. Michelangelo carved the statue from a single slab of Carrara marble, choosing the material personally. The completion took less then two years (around 1498-99) and it is the only finished Piéta of the sculptor. There are three other later works with the same topic: the Rondanini Piéta, Deposition andPalestrina Piéta.
The composition has a pyramidal shape: Mary holds the dead son in her lap. The proportions of the figures are somewhat distorted, Mary's body is enlarged by undulating draperies, to be able to hold a fully-grown man. The marks of the Crucifiction can hardly be seen. The statue is full of controversy: the almost naked body of Christ and the rich garment of Mary, the dead and the alive, lights and shadows, vertical and horizontal layout. Due to the elaborate details and precision the contrasts are somehow equalized and it reflects pure harmony.
The theme of piéta was known in art before Michelangelo but was depicted on paintings only and mostly in the northern regions of Europe. The word piéta means pity or compassion, and depicts Mary contemplating her dead son after the Crucifiction. Michelangelo used a new approach to depict the scene and combined Renaissance ideals with naturalism. The face of Mary reveals serenity and majestic acceptance, there are no signs of grief. Her body is concealed by the rich wrinkles and folds of her garment. The depiction of Mary as a young and beautiful woman raised criticism but according to Michelangelo's reaction he aimed to figure the ideal beauty and a chaste woman, who is ageless. The body of Christ is carved with anatomical perfection. The sculptor studied the great statues of antiquity and had a chance to see some newly unearthed sculptures and ruins, when he arrived at Rome. Like his contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci, he also dissected corps to study anatomy. He could perfectly reproduce the dead corpus: the head declines back, the body is enervate, one arm hangs powerless.
This is the only work Michelangelo had ever signed. According to the legend, someone attributed his work to another sculptor and in great disappointment he carved his name in Mary's sash.
Unfortunately this great masterpiece suffered some damages over the centuries. Four fingers of Mary were broken during a move, which was restored later. In 1972 a mentally disturbed geologist attacked the sculpture with a hammer and caused serious damages. Among others the left arm and the nose of Mary were shattered. The statue was immediately restored and nowadays it is protected by a bullet proof glass panel to save it for future centuries.