Monday, August 14, 2006

Last Judgment

The Last Judgment, 1536-1541 by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel, Vatican.

Michelangelo and the Vatican butted heads over the nudity in this colossal fresco of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse. All of the souls are being judged and either ascending to heaven or falling down into hell. Some of the figures are coming to grips with their fates based on how they lived they lives.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This image is so vast and complex that it may force a viewer into thinking about bigger things. This is an image of ideas. Good versus evil. God. Religion. Positive versus negative energy. These are the immediate concepts. Then it also brings up thoughts on how powerful religion has been through the ages as a driving force for art. Because of the catholic church many incredible artists have emerged. Art work has been built on the skeleton of a concept about God/creation. You then have to ask - what type of art would there be without religion. There's a strong posiibility that art may not have evolved into such deep layers without it. Maybe we would still be at a much more basic level - less philosophical. Maybe more straightforward or scientific or even abstract. Religion has funded much of the worlds great western art and some of the worlds most powerful imagery. —ZAC

1:41 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Posted for a reader who is unable to post:

Comment - While I concur with Anon. that religion has certainly been a driving force for art, one needs to take that idea one step further back: what has been the driving force behind religion? Both art & religion are manifestations of Existential Angst and while art without religion would certainly be different, we would still have art. Different for sure but art just the same. Maybe better (just like we would be without religion.)

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without religion, not without God

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're correct Martha - angst has been one of the driving forces behind religion (or maybe the search for ourselves) at a very basic level - but another even more powerful driving force for religion is power, greed and control. If you take a tour of the Vatican it's there in plain view. But my point was that from an "innocent" perspective - religion and especially Christian religion has been the well-spring of works from the great masters.

Now as we've evolved, and the masses have become more learned and intelligent, they've turned away from religion. This migration has changed all of this for better or worse. There's been a universal move away from religion - toward what, I'm not sure. But there is a noticeable lack of raw energy (speaking in general terms) as we've moved through the ages. Powerful imagery from the Renaissance has dwindled to more subdued images of the day-to-day mundane genre scenes, of the Impressionist. And further along still to the non-images of the abstract. And as we move along, we also lose a sense of humanity and with it we've also lost something much more important - the ability to create beauty. Recently the italian writer Umberto Ecco wrote about how today's art is angry and ugly - assuming you can make out what it is. I'd also add that many times it represents the scrawlings of an angry child. —ZAC

9:20 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Please note the second comment above was posted for a reader who had trouble posting it himself.


10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umberto Ecco cannot be used as critic of things modern. It is not a stretch to say that the man is "hung up" in things medieval. Like it or not beginning with the Enlightenment and culminating w/ Immanuel Kant, Western thinking and hence Western art turned from a god centered way of looking at things to a man centered view. One may not particularly like that turn of events but there is no going back. As far as "subdued" & "mundane" is concerned, one could argue that this is in fact a sign of introspection (after all it's an anthropomorphic Zeit Geist now) and thus a mark of even greater humanity. One could argue that “The Last Judgement” has very little in the way of humanity in it. A lotta god; not too much humanity. - KJG

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illustrating man's ability for introspection by creating art that is just plain obvious does not justify its existence. One cannot simply explain away work that does not meet muster, nor does it justify it. The exponents of abstract art have been attempting to do that for over a century — and quite poorly I might add. The fact is that in the "art" world there is a very small splinter of work that can be called great art, most of it is in the range of acceptable illustration all the way down to good craftsmanship. But not much of it knocks one down in awe, inspiration and emotion. And certainly little if any has been created in Kant's modern world. —ZAC

9:19 AM  

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