do you ever think about how little Michelangelo cared
All right, everyone, grab a chair and sit back because I’m going to share with you what I learned about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel in my Art History Class.
The man NEVER wanted to paint the damn thing. But the pope at the time “forced him to” According to my teacher. Michelangelo hated this man, I MEAN REALLY HATED HIM. So did a majority of people. The pope’s nickname translated literally means “Terrible pope”.
And the working conditions were awful. He had to work on his back with all that paint, which is filled with some toxic shit that gave Michelangelo a limp for the rest of his life.
(Also, our teacher made us get on our backs and try drawing with both hands JUST to prove how bad and uncomfortable it is.)
At the time, the ceiling was so high, you could barely see it. You need binoculars to get a good look at what’s up there, by the time people could see the paintings, there was a lot of weird symbolism that Michelangelo hid up there.
This one? The creation of the sun and moon? God is mooning you. And the pope and all others after him prayed under that without knowing.
This one? At the time, dissecting was sacrilegious and everyone found out how behind God was what looked like half a brain. blah blah, science, science, that pissed everyone off.
And also, ALLLLLLL the men and women in the Sistine Chapel are all on fucking steroids. My teacher described the women’s bodies as "Men bodies with boobs slapped on."
And then there is this:
Now this is the back wall. Michelangelo actually wanted to paint this one after he finished the ceiling. (and there was a different pope too, I believe.) However, originally, EVERYONE in that painting was naked. And they didn’t like it. Adam and Eve naked? That’s cool. But Jesus? Now you crossed the line. So the pope at the time hired someone else to censor it and give the important figures clothes. He worked on it for 6 or 9 months before he died.
And then the symbolism in this one is great. Somewhere in the right, there are homosexuals in heaven. (No matter what, the Vatican will say “Those straight men are happy” I’ll get to that in a second), Michelangelo painted himself near Jesus, and the terrible pope is in hell with a snake biting his balls.
And if you were to point ANY of this out to the Vatican, they will deny all of it and claim Michelangelo was a catholic hero. In fact, when they discovered the symbolism around the 60s or 70s, the guy who told the Vatican was kicked out of the Vatican for life.
TL;DR: Michelangelo hated the pope and made the best “fuck you” of all time.
YO. ALL OF THIS^. Michelangelo was hella grumpy all of the time. It was fantastic.
However, as beautiful as this commentary is, I’m gonna make a little correction. The Pope isn’t the one in hell getting his balls bitten; that guy is actually the Papal Minister of Ceremonies a the time, Biagio de Cesena.
See, when Michelangelo was painting this, as you said, lots of people were uncomfortable with all of the nudity (especially because the Last Judgement [back wall mural] was painted much later when nudity in religious art was even more controversial than before), but the dude who was the angriest was de Cesena.
He was so angry that he reportedly burst in on Michelangelo while he was working (which is already a big no-no because Michelangelo’s requirements for working were mostly “fuck the hell off and leave me alone or else I quit and I will stab you in the eye with my paintbrush/chisel”.). He then proceeds to tell Michelangelo that this fresco is disgusting and obscene and shame on him etc etc. He also referred to it as “i stui di nudi”, which means “A stew of nudes” which is one of the best descriptions of a thing ever, if you ask me.
So Michelangelo, probably on the cusp of homicide is like “Thank you for the notes. Now get the fuck out,” and de Cesena reluctantly does.
Later, he comes to see the finished product and finds that Michelangelo had painted his portrait down in Hell to represent the Minos, King of the Dead. He has the ears of an ass and the above described crotch biting snake:
Upon seeing this and being enraged, de Cesena went to the Pope to demand that it be changed and that Michelangelo be punished. However, the Pope was SO incredibly done dealing with Michelangelo’s snark, tantrums, and general hatred of the world and everyone in it, that he didn’t want to do shit.
The Pope’s response to him was literally to say “As Pope, I have a lot of influence on Earth and up in Heaven, but I have no jurisdiction in Hell. You’re shit out of luck.”
And it stayed.
Michelangelo, grade A artist, snark master, and professional dick.
But some further corrections are needed! Your teacher made you draw on your back for absolutely no reason, since that is absolutely NOT how Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. Although it’s a popular myth, Michelangelo was actually responsible for designing elaborate scaffolding and platforms that allowed him to paint by standing/sitting and reaching over his head. It would be nigh impossible to paint in a horizontal position, let alone see your palette. We know this from the accounts of Ascanio Condivi, Michelangelo’s pupil and biographer, and from a sketch Michelangelo did of himself painting God:
Either way it was ungodly comfortable, and no doubt aided in his grumpy-ass demeanor. He also hated bathing. He hated everything.
And in reference to the comic, why Michelangelo painted masculine women has nothing to do with his competence, or the more ridiculous, ‘he never saw a naked woman!” I mean come on, you’ve all seen his Pieta right? For further reading on why, check this out.
And for further clarification, Michelangelo has a lot of issues with the church, and yes, specifically with Pope Julius II (who once beat Michelangelo with his cane in public and later sent 500 ducats as an apology), but he was still a very religious man. He was extremely well-versed in religious texts and was remarkably progressive in his views. Which of course, being a public figure he had to keep quiet about (or stealthily hide symbolism in his work). He mainly despised the Church’s treatment of Jewish people (Michelangelo’s own priest was burned at the stake for “religious error” on that account) and no doubt hated their stance on nudity and many other issues.
The “God/Brain” panel would not be controversial because “science blah blah science” but because Michelangelo was implying man has a direct connection to God, one that takes precedent over the role of the Catholic Church. So yeahhh. Cool dude.