Sistine Chapel Ceiling And The Last Judgment

2638 words - 11 pages

In this research paper I will be looking at two different artworks by the same artist. The two I will be looking at are the Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508-1512) and The Last Judgment (1534). Both of these painting are painted in the Sistine chapel which is located in the Vatican. I am going to attempt to evaluate these two pieces of art painted by Michelangelo and explain the cultural and religious aspects of them. I will also look to other scholars to get their perspective and their reactions to the paintings. The last step of my research will be to formulate a theory about the relationship between culture and religion and use my topic to help defend my theory.
Michelangelo was born in a time in which the church had a great influence on most things that people did in their everyday life. He grew up in a wealthy family and was exposed to people of high position. The paintings and sculptures that Michelangelo created were strongly related to the Bible, and showed his respect and knowledge of the religion and culture he was brought up in. Starting with the Sistine Chapel ceiling, it has paintings that start with the creation of the world all the way to the flood and drunkenness of Noah. Michelangelo took four years to paint the ceiling and broke down different aspects of the earlier parts of the Bible throughout the ceiling. The most prominent paintings that are on the ceiling would have to be where God’s hand reaches out to Adam’s hand. This shows that Michelangelo views man and God as having a relationship where they know each other. Man can reach out to God, while God reaches down to man. With that being said, I believe this shows that the way in which man encounters God in this painting was a form of the ontological type. In our book Theology of Culture, it states "man discovers himself when he discovers God; he discovers something that is identical with himself although it transcends him infinitely, something from which he is estranged, but from which he never has been and never can be separated". (Tillich: 10). If you look at the two hands, they are very similar in size. There is no significant difference in the two hands. When you go back a few painting before that, you see that God created man which was expressed in the Bible. With God creating man, we should never be estranged from God because he is the creator of everything. Next we look at the rear wall of the Sistine Chapel and you see another painting by Michelangelo named The Last Judgment. "The Last Judgment certainly reflects the Italian movement for church reform". (Partridge et al: 8). The painting shows what seems to be God on a throne, looking down over all the people below him. In the bottom right seems to be hell with demons that are pulling souls over to damnation, while some others seem to be being pulled up towards the Heavens. This is the last judgment even though all separations of the people are biblical stated.
As for the cultural aspect of the paintings, the...

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