Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, Michelangelo is widely considered as one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance period and of all times.
About his life
Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, Italy. Born to a family of moderate means in the banking business, Michelangelo became an apprentice to a painter before studying in the sculpture gardens of the powerful Medici family. What followed was a remarkable career as an artist in the Italian Renaissance, recognized in his own time for his artistic virtuosity. His works include the David and Pietà statues and the ceiling paintings of Rome’s Sistine Chapel, including the Last Judgment. Although he always considered himself a Florentine, Michelangelo lived most of his life in Rome, where he died in 1564, at age 88.
What were his major works?
Around 1497 Michelangelo completed Bacchus. This marble statue depicts the Roman god of wine Bacchus which shows particular traces of the Hellenistic sculpture. Along with Pietà (1499), which depicts Virgin Mary grieving over the body of Jesus who is lying on her lap after the Crucifixion, Bacchus is one of only two surviving sculptures from the Michelangelo’s first period in Rome. Among his marble statues there are also the Madonna of Bruges (1504), which shows a somewhat detached Mary which looks away, the David (1504), which showcases Michelangelo’s exceptional technical skill as well as his strength of symbolic imagination and establish him as one of the greatest sculptors of all time, and the Moses (1505), which was commissioned by Pope Julius II.
Among Michelangelo’s paintings stands out his frescoes (1508-1512) in Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City. Two of the most important scenes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling are the Creation of Adam, which is a cornerstone of Renaissance art and the most famous fresco panel of the chapel, and the Fall and Expulsion of Adam and Eve, which depicts scenes from the book of Genesis. Painted on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel there is the Last Judgement, which depicts the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity.
info source: https://www.britannica.com/art/fresco-painting
He worked to St. Peter Basilica in Rome between 1546 and 1564. He eliminated the ambulatories and the façade with towers. The Greek-cross plan of Bramante was reinstated, along with the unifying colossal order on the exterior. In order to unify the exterior, Michelangelo used the Corinthian order as an embracing theme by pairing Corinthian pilasters in the lower mass of the church and pairing Corinthian columns in the peristyle and lantern of the dome. He designed a Florentine ribbed dome instead of Bramante’s hemisphere, dividing it by sixteen ribs rather than the eight of the Florentine dome, and even these and the ribs of the culminating lantern are paired. Thus the entire church, from the ground to the sphere on the lantern, gives the impression of a colossal monolith.
image source: http://stpetersbasilica.info/Pics/AER/SP-sqr-rm-rear.jpg
He also worked to the Laurentian Library (1559) in Florence. Michelangelo designed both the interior of the library itself and its vestibule. He pioneered the Mannerist style in his design of the library which became renowned for its architecture. The Laurentian Library is one of Michelangelo’s most important architectural achievements and his innovations and use of space in the library were revolutionary.
How can we identify Michelangelo’s style?
- He preferred to paint frescoes than work with oil paints.
- In his frescoes Michelangelo never created his forms with a soft focus and believed it was more important to create figures with clear outlines, which was a Florentine tradition.
- He painted with bright, light colors that daringly harmonized. Michelangelo painted freely and with great dynamism.
- He mixed Greek and Roman mythology with traditional Christian scenes.
- Michelangelo worked primarily with the human form. For him the body was the physical embodiment of the soul.
- Unlike da Vinci, he rarely spent time working with nature.
- Michelangelo was interested in modeling in three-dimensional space, so even in his paintings he emphasized the musculature of his figures.
- Michelangelo had a keen eye for light and shadow and grasped that they can represent volume and shape in both a sculpture and a painting.