Art Assignment #10 Essay - Part 10

                                                           Art Assignment #10

1 - Art Assignment #10 Essay introduction. Discuss the like and work of Michelangelo. Refer to specific works of art as examples.

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            Michelangelo’s career began when the artist was still a child. Apprenticed to the famous artist Ghirlandaio at a very young age, Michelangelo later became a student of Giovanni and through his connections to Giovanni became associated with the powerful, ruling family, the Medicis.  The continued patronage of the Medici family allowed Michelangelo to attain artistic notoriety and fame that he might otherwise not have enjoyed so immediately. This same patronage caused Michelangelo a degree of frustration and pain in that he had to work according to the desires of his patrons; the most famous example of this is the celebrated Sistine Chapel the creation of which was shrouded in controversy, although the Sistine Chapel is widely considered to be Michelangelo’s achievement as a painter.

            Equally celebrated as a sculptor and a painter, Michelangelo’s earliest works in sculpture indicate a combined originality and reverence for classical tradition.  His Pieta is notable for the tenderness extracted from the stone, and the graceful gesture of form and also the beautiful facial expressions of his figures and their harmonious proportion.  His David demonstrates a mastery of classical  line and harmonious design. Michelangelo’s last major sculpture was Moses, a towering, majestic figure which was carved out of a block of stone deemed unusable by other sculptors. Michelangelo’s brilliant insight into human form and the beauty of the human form as an expressive medium extended from sculpture to painting. Among the frescoes in the Sistine chapel, the Last Judgment is considered to be Michelangelo’s masterwork and his radical treatment of sacred themes and his fierce originality corresponded to his work as a sculptor and as an architect.

2. Compare and contrast Renaissance art and Baroque art. Use specific works of art as examples.

            Baroque art can be considered art in motion as contrasted with classically inspired Renaissance art, which is more correctly understood as art at rest, or the perfection of expression and harmony. By contrast, Baroque art indicates a searching, questing quality with a palpable sense of motion and fluid expression fo disparate elements moving toward unity. Baroque style “is characterized by an emphasis on unity among the arts. With technical brilliance, the baroque artist achieved a remarkable harmony wherein painting, sculpture, and architecture were brought together in new spatial relationships, both real and illusionary, often with spectacular visual effects,” (“Baroque, in Art and Architecture,” 2004).

            The impact of the Baroque aesthetic was felt in sculpture painting and architecture as well as music. In the visual arts a form of “highly developed naturalistic illusionism, usually heightened by dramatic lighting effects, creating an unequaled sense of theatricality, energy, and movement of forms” which brings a sense of unsettled energy to a Baroque work whereas a work of Renaissance art expresses the search “realized” so to speak, (“Baroque, in Art and Architecture,” 2004)

            Unlike Renaissance artists, “Baroque sculptors felt free to combine different materials within a single work and often used one material to simulate another. One of the great masterpieces of baroque sculpture, Giovanni Bernini’s St. Theresa from the Cornaro Chapel, for example, succumbs to an ecstatic vision on a dull-finished marble cloud in an alabaster and marble niche in which bronze rays descend from a hidden source of light”; this complex medium failed to find favor with Renaissance artists who worked in exclusionary materials, (“Baroque, in Art and Architecture,” 2004).


Michelangelo Buonarroti. (2004). In The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). New York:   Columbia University Press.

Martin, J. R. (1977). Baroque. New York: Harper & Row.

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