Parkstone International
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Michelangelo, like Leonardo, was a man of many talents; sculptor, architect, painter and poet, he made the apotheosis of muscular movement, which to him was the physical manifestation of passion. He moulded his draughtsmanship, bent it, twisted it, and stretched it to the extreme limits of possibility. There are not any landscapes in Michelangelo's painting. All the emotions, all the passions, all the thoughts of humanity were personified in his eyes in the naked bodies of men and women. He rarely conceived his human forms in attitudes of immobility or repose. Michelangelo became a painter so that he could express in a more malleable material what his titanesque soul felt, what his sculptor's imagination saw, but what sculpture refused him. Thus this admirable sculptor became the creator, at the Vatican, of the most lyrical and epic decoration ever seen: the Sistine Chapel. The profusion of his invention is spread over this vast area of over 900 square metres. There are 343 principal figures of prodigious variety of expression, many of colossal size, and in addition a great number of subsidiary ones introduced for decorative effect. The creator of this vast scheme was only thirty-four when he began his work. Michelangelo compels us to enlarge our conception of what is beautiful. To the Greeks it was physical perfection; but Michelangelo cared little for physical beauty, except in a few instances, such as his painting of Adam on the Sistine ceiling, and his sculptures of the Pietà. Though a master of anatomy and of the laws of composition, he dared to disregard both if it were necessary to express his concept: to exaggerate the muscles of his figures, and even put them in positions the human body could not naturally assume. In his later painting, The Last Judgment on the end wall of the Sistine, he poured out his soul like a torrent. Michelangelo was the first to make the human form express a variety of emotions. In his hands emotion became an instrument upon which he played, extracting themes and harmonies of infinite variety. His figures carry our imagination far beyond the personal meaning of the names attached to them.
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Parkstone International
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Jul 1, 2011
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Architecture / Individual Architects & Firms / General
Art / European
Art / General
Art / History / Renaissance
Art / Individual Artists / Monographs
Art / Techniques / Painting
Art / Techniques / Sculpting
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Leonardo’s early life was spent in Florence, his maturity in Milan, and the last three years of his life in France. Leonardo’s teacher was Verrocchio. First he was a goldsmith, then a painter and sculptor: as a painter, representative of the very scientific school of draughtsmanship; more famous as a sculptor, being the creator of the Colleoni statue at Venice, Leonardo was a man of striking physical attractiveness, great charm of manner and conversation, and mental accomplishment. He was well grounded in the sciences and mathematics of the day, as well as a gifted musician. His skill in draughtsmanship was extraordinary; shown by his numerous drawings as well as by his comparatively few paintings. His skill of hand is at the service of most minute observation and analytical research into the character and structure of form. Leonardo is the first in date of the great men who had the desire to create in a picture a kind of mystic unity brought about by the fusion of matter and spirit. Now that the Primitives had concluded their experiments, ceaselessly pursued during two centuries, by the conquest of the methods of painting, he was able to pronounce the words which served as a password to all later artists worthy of the name: painting is a spiritual thing, cosa mentale. He completed Florentine draughtsmanship in applying to modelling by light and shade, a sharp subtlety which his predecessors had used only to give greater precision to their contours. This marvellous draughtsmanship, this modelling and chiaroscuro he used not solely to paint the exterior appearance of the body but, as no one before him had done, to cast over it a reflection of the mystery of the inner life. In the Mona Lisa and his other masterpieces he even used landscape not merely as a more or less picturesque decoration, but as a sort of echo of that interior life and an element of a perfect harmony. Relying on the still quite novel laws of perspective this doctor of scholastic wisdom, who was at the same time an initiator of modern thought, substituted for the discursive manner of the Primitives the principle of concentration which is the basis of classical art. The picture is no longer presented to us as an almost fortuitous aggregate of details and episodes. It is an organism in which all the elements, lines and colours, shadows and lights, compose a subtle tracery converging on a spiritual, a sensuous centre. It was not with the external significance of objects, but with their inward and spiritual significance, that Leonardo was occupied.
Michelangelo war, genau wie Leonardo, ein “universeller” Künstler: Maler, Baumeister, Bildhauer und Dichter. Er war der Hauptmeister der italienischen Hochrenaissance und Wegbereiter des Manierismus. Seine Vorliebe galt der als Ausdruck der Leidenschaft angesehenen Skulptur. Nach Landschaften sucht man bei ihm vergeblich. Alles, was den Menschen ausmacht, seine Gefühle, Leidenschaften, seinen Intellekt, wollte Michelangelo durch den nackten Körper zum Ausdruck bringen, den er kaum einmal in einer Ruhestellung, ohne Bewegung zeigte. Die Malkunst war für ihn nur ein anderes, leichter zu handhabendes Mittel, um das in künstlerische Worte zu fassen, was seine Seele bewegte. So gestaltete er, der sich selbst in erster Linie als Bildhauer sah, ein Deckengemälde, wie es lyrischer und epischer in der gesamten Geschichte der Malkunst nicht zu finden ist: die Decke der Sixtinischen Kapelle. Über die riesige Fläche von 1000 m2 entfaltete er hier seine ganze Genialität. Als er die Arbeit im Auftrag von Papst Klemens VII. (1478 bis 1534) aufnahm, war er gerade mal 34 Jahre alt. In seinem letzten Gemälde, dem Jüngsten Gericht an der Wand der Sixtinischen Kapelle, ließ er seinen eigenen Qualen freien Lauf. Was bedeuteten künstlerische Gesetze und Konventionen im Vergleich zu dem Schmerz, der in seinem Inneren tobte und ein Ventil brauchte? Kein Wunder, dass seine Zeitgenossen den Ausdruck terribilità auf seinen Stil anwandten. Seine Figuren entführen uns in Gefilde der Phantasie, die weit über das hinausgehen, was wir normalerweise mit ihrem Namen verbinden.
Miguel Ángel, como Leonardo, fue una persona con muchos talentos: escultor, arquitecto, pintor y poeta. Alcanzó la cima de la representación del movimiento muscular, que el entendía como la manifestación de la pasión. Modeló, dobló, retorció y estiró sus dibujos hasta el límite de sus posibilidades. En las obras de Miguel Ángel no hay nunca paisajes, todas las emociones, las pasiones, la humanidad de sus obras se personifican, a su modo de ver, en los cuerpos desnudos de hombres y mujeres; rara vez concibió la forma humana en actitud de inmovilidad o reposo. Miguel Ángel se hizo pintor para poder expresar, a través de un medio más maleable, aquello que su alma titánica sentía, aquello que su imaginación de escultor veía, pero que la escultura le negaba. De esta manera, este admirable escultor se convirtió en el autor, en el Vaticano, de la decoración más épica y lírica jamás concebida: la Capilla Sixtina. Su abundante inventiva se extiende sobre una impresionante área de 900 metros cuadrados. Hay 334 figuras principales con una variedad de expresión prodigiosa, muchas de un tamaño colosal, además de otras tantas secundarias que incluyó solo a efectos de decoración. El creador de este vasto esquema tenía solo 34 años cuando comenzó su trabajo. En su obra, Miguel Ángel nos obliga a ampliar nuestra concepción de la belleza. Lo que los griegos situaban en la perfección física para él era irrelevante. Le importaba poco la belleza física, excepto en alguna ocasión, como por ejemplo en su representación de Adán en el techo de la Capilla Sixtina o sus esculturas de la Pietà. Aunque era un maestro de la anatomía y de las leyes de la composición, osaba ignorarlas si lo consideraba necesario para expresar su concepción, y exageraba la musculatura de sus figuras o las hacía adoptar posiciones antinaturales. En una de sus últimas obras, El juicio final de la pared del fondo de la Capilla Sixtina, desahogó su alma e hizo brotar sus emociones a raudales. Miguel Ángel fue el primero en conseguir que la forma humana expresara una multitud de sentimientos, la emoción se convirtió en sus manos en un instrumento del que extraía notas y armonías de una variedad infinita. Sus figuras desplazan nuestra imaginación más allá del significado que le otorgan los nombres propios.
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