Michelangelo's Fresco The Last Judgment Essay

1648 words - 7 pages

Art, by definition, is “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings”. Throughout history, one way that art has been used is to reflect a multitude of ideas and beliefs. Christian beliefs and ideas have been portrayed in artwork since the beginning of Christianity, although, it was not always acceptable to do so. The idea of the final judgement is a Christian idea that has been displayed in art repeatedly in a variety of ways. Michelangelo’s fresco the Last Judgment (1536-1541) is a piece that visualizes this idea. Since the time it was finished, this significant piece found in the Sistine Chapel has been continuously critiqued and analyzed. Many Christians struggle to interpret the event of a final judgment after reading it through Scripture. In analyzing Michelangelo’s piece, it is similar difficult to determine what he exactly meant to portray and what the various part of his masterpiece represent exactly. Many have examined this piece and made different regarding what exactly the various figures and objects are supposed to represent. The diverse interpretations of this work further shows the idea that when Christian ideas are reflected through artwork, it is hard to ascertain exactly what an artist intended to demonstrate. In addition, the controversies surrounding this piece represent the idea that when Christian ideas are revealed through art, there is potential for disagreement regarding what should and should not be included in Christian art. Michelangelo’s Last Judgment is just an example of what results when Christianity is brought into art.
In 1535, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Paul III to complete the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. It is thought that there was nothing restricting his freedom to do what he desired in completing this task. As soon as the fresco was revealed on All Saints’ Eve in October of 1541, it has been subject to admiration and controversy. The biggest negative reaction was that of the clerical elite. Throughout the remainder of the sixteenth century, Michelangelo’s work was detested by various leaders. Several of the clerical elite even thought about having the fresco removed from the wall due to the amount of nude figures. After Michelangelo died in 1564, oppositions to his piece only increased. This even led to Daniele da Volterra adding clothing to some of the naked figures and redoing the figures of St. Blaise and St. Catherine in the fresco. The fact that this piece resulted in dissatisfaction shows that when dealing with portraying a Christian event in artwork, th. Although times have since changed and Michelangelo’s work was eventually accepted for what it is, this example goes to show that when Christianity and art intersect, there are issues surrounding what is acceptable and not.
Early records of this commission of the altar wall in the chapel as a “Resurrection”. While...

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