Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Monday, April 23, 2018

All Art is Interpretation, and Sometimes It Makes Fools of Us

From a Fodor's miniguide

English: Michelangelo's David (original statue...
English: Michelangelo's David (original statue) Deutsch: David von Michelangelo (Original aus der "Accademia" in Florenz) Nederlands: David van Michelangelo (het originele beeld) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"As Michelangelo well knew, the Renaissance painting
 and sculpture that preceded his work were deeply
 concerned with ideal form. Perfection of proportion
 was the ever-sought Holy Grail; during the Renaissance, ideal proportion was
 equated with ideal beauty, and ideal beauty was equated
 with spiritual perfection. But David, despite its
 supremely calm and dignified pose, departs from these
 ideals. Michelangelo did not give the statue perfect
 proportions. The head is slightly too large for the
 body, the arms are too large for the torso,and the hands are
 dramatically large for the arms. The facade of the
 Duomo and was intended to be seen from below
 at a distance. Michelangelo knew exactly what he was
 doing, calculating that the perspective of the viewer
 would be such that, in order for the statue to appear
 properly proportioned, the upper body, head and arms
 would have to be bigger,as they are farther away
 from the viewer's line of vision. But he also did it
 to express and embody, as powerfully as possible
 in a single figure, an entire biblical story.
 David's hands are  big, but so was Goliath,
 and these are the hands that slew him."

English: Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's B...
English: Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Français : La Pietà de Michel-Ange située dans la Basilique Saint-Pierre, au Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
From a Renaissance website

An examination of each figure reveals that their proportions are not entirely natural in relation to the other.  Although their heads are proportional, the Virgin’s body is larger than Christ’s body.  She appears so large that if she stood up, she would likely tower over her son.  The reason Michelangelo did this was probably because it was necessary so that the Virgin could support her son on her lap; had her body been smaller, it might have been very difficult or awkward for her to have held an adult male as gracefully as she does.

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