Thursday, January 31, 2008

Leonardo & Michelangelo

Today in Survey 2 class we'll begin our discussion of the High Renaissance in Italy. I'm already about 15 minutes behind, thanks to the seductive Early Renaissance, so I'll have to keep myself on task. Hard to do when we've got the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, Michelangelo's David, and the Sistine Chapel (among others) on the list! Somebody will probably bring up Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code--and if they don't, I will. That is NOT Mary Magdalene in Leonardo's Last Supper, there is NO silly hidden code in The Virgin of the Rocks, and there is no way what's-her-name in the book could have pulled the latter painting off the wall like she does. (It's over 6 feet tall.) Dan Brown's author's note really wants people to think much of what he says is true, but it's fiction, folks.

As for the Mona Lisa, call me an art historical heretic, but when I see her in person--even the first time--she leaves me cold. I think it's overexposure. She's built up so much so that when you go to the Louvre and you follow the herd of tourists to her bulletproof case, you expect to be whacked upside the head. I wasn't. I wanted to be, but I wasn't. Still not.

Now Michelangelo's David is another story. No amount of tacky souvenirs (and that includes the Dress Up David magnet on my fridge), no amount of overexposure can take away from him. He is unbelievable. When you stand in front of him, he does make you tremble, he does take your breath away. I love Michelangelo. Feisty, curmudgeonly, my-way-or-the-highway, willing to argue with a Pope to defend his art. He was The Man!

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