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Old 03-19-2008, 12:58 AM
Musicman92130 Musicman92130 is offline
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How do you approach Michelangelo?

Well I have been saving my money and vacation time for awhile and this Summer I will finally be going to the Summer Session in sculpture at the Florence Academy of Art. I will be there for a month.

One of the main reasons I am going to Florence is to study Michelangelo and unlock the mystery of his gestures. I read that Rodin spent time in Florence trying to do the same thing. Rodin said he never really had a master except for Michelangelo. He said slowly with time he began to understand. But I can't find anywhere where it saids what Rodin thought the secret was.

So I read all these books and I still have no idea how to approach the gestures of Michelangelo. I think if I can start to understand even a little, it will push me to the next level. Any ideas?

Thanks, Mark
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:12 AM
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StevenW StevenW is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

I'd say go there with an open mind and have fun and start with a sharp, sharp chisel. People can perhaps glimpse the mind of Michelangelo, like Rodin and appreciate what it was he saw, but none of us can ever be him, so focus on yourself instead and appreciate him for who he was, that's my only real advice..
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:11 AM
tobias tobias is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

I would say the best thing for you to do is go and listen to what they have to say see every thing not only IMchelangelo. every thing is amazing there so dont stop at one sculptor.
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Old 03-19-2008, 11:44 AM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

It seems to me that Rodin may have been talking about the naturalness of form and gravity that Michelangelo was able to achieve. Look for how the sculptures really feel like flesh. Look for the subtlety of his gestures... hands, fingers, contra posto, turn of the neck. Little things like this are what seem to be so onvious we ignore them completely, but when done in such a masterful way (as he did) it creates a thing of beauty with little or no comparison.

Good Luck, I hope you have a lot of fun,

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Old 03-20-2008, 06:51 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

A month there will be great; congratulations. Reading your post, I already had formulated my answer, and it's very close to what Alfred said just above.

Michelangelo turned stone into flesh. His forms are so natural and lifelike, bits of pudginess and all, that we almost believe the sculptures could walk away from their podiums.

I have no idea what Rodin meant by that phrase, but I don't believe he came even close to Michelangelo. He was excellent in his own way, probably among the dozen best post Classical sculptors of the human figure, certainly, but Michelangelo's conceptions have a grandeur that Rodin probably never saw.

I think one of Rodin's failings is that he worked mainly in bronze instead of marble, and marble simply is grander than bronze for the figure. Rodin essentially worked in clay or wax and left assistants to produce the marble or bronze copy, and that semi-industrial process is seen in his work. Fine, yes, magnificent to a degree, yes, but not Michelangelo.
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Old 03-20-2008, 07:18 PM
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underfoot underfoot is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

highly recommend avisit to the downstairs room at the Bargello,
theres a couple of unfinished Michelangelo's , also there are some clay maquettes tucked away in a corner nearby that are amazing,
also check his work at cappela de medici, best sculpted hands ever
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:25 PM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

Michelangelo was able to achieve the things he did because of his rare ability to play above the rim, like Micheal Jordan. Its another whole game up there. Sculptors on that level are not bothered by narrative, subject or even content. It might SEEM like its about some bible story but actually its all about the way human flesh might hang or how a body might twist or what lush voluptuousnesses a rendered robe can unnaturally sometimes that it looks perfect. Blatant and quite purposeful misproportions and misappropriations can not only defy specific attention, but they embrace every other element of the composition and lift a place not achieved by the mere mastery of handiwork. Plus, he was not afraid of BIG rocks...or anything else I can see.

You cannot get to places like that by playing by anyones rules...ANYONES.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:32 PM
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StevenW StevenW is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

Above the rim? Classic!

"Hey Michel, I'm wearing your underwear, the stone underwear you gave me to wear"!

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Old 03-21-2008, 01:13 AM
furby furby is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

One thing u may consider in your thoughts is where did michelangelo get his inspiration from?
which i think were greek sculptures like the Lacoon.

so if u look from michelangeo's point of view such amazing figures would have been his inspiration + loads of study of anatomy + you add the mood of the time + his passionate nature + what appears to have been mostly a life of unrequited love (if u read his poetry).. powerful stuff.

i think you guys are right about the turn of the neck & the posture & that, like what both michelangelo & rodin did, was create poses that are actually unlikely to occur in reality & tweaking anatomy. and then that brings out the inner feelings that are not immediately obvious or easy to translate, but we can feel them thru sympathy with the body.
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Old 04-07-2008, 03:17 PM
KLRON KLRON is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

When you get back, please let me know how the workshop is. If it's worth the investment of time and money, I am interested in going in 2009.

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Old 06-28-2008, 07:43 AM
mettw mettw is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

I have to disagree with most of the posts here. Michaelangelo's ability to render flesh is not something that struck me at all. It's difficult to describe something as beautiful as his later works, but I can make two guesses about that mysterious something.

The first is that Michaelangelo's sculptures are simply alive, they have a spirit within them. I know that doesn't really describe much, but after looking at some genuinely great works you'll know what I mean. I strongly recommend that you catch a train to Rome and visit the Vatican Museums. The ancient Egyptian (as opposed to the hellenistic Egyptian) Sculpture is as stiff as a board but has more life in it than almost anything else you'll see. My favourite works at Florence are Michaelangelo's unfinished Pieta and Donatello's Mary Magdelene, both in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. When I went to see them for the last time before flying home I felt as though I was saying goodbye to two old friends - they really are that Beautiful.

The other thing that Michaelangelo managed to do is not so much that he did one thing really well, but that he did everything well. His real genius was in being able to keep every element of the work in harmony so that one doesn't dominate to the detriment of another. To get an idea of what I mean you should compare his later works to the Bacchus in the Bargello, where, from one angle, the cup obscures the figure's head. This is a talent that Bernini shared.

I know these are both very airy-fairy statements, but I think when a sculptor passes a certain level of talent their works become harder and harder to describe in concrete terms.
Matthew Parry
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Old 06-28-2008, 09:11 AM
mountshang mountshang is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

Originally Posted by Musicman92130 View Post

One of the main reasons I am going to Florence is to study Michelangelo and unlock the mystery of his gestures.

I'm wondering which specific gestures you had in mind.
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Old 07-05-2008, 03:40 PM
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JasonGillespie JasonGillespie is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

Having spent no little time studying Michelangelo's (spelled Michel Agnolo at that time) work and his own thoughts on same as well as Rodin's own work and interest in that master, I will venture an educated guess.

Rodin was by his early training a classicist. He revered the Greeks and early Romans. (As he always did despite his shift towards Renaissance and naturalistic compositions/form senses) A Neoclassical paradigm was the prism through which he viewed form and compositional problems...until he went to Italy and saw Michelangelo's work first hand. The serpentine gestures of the elder sculptors works as well as his use of the console composition in a goodly number of his figures electrified Rodin and sent him in an entirely different direction. This is a simplification of sorts...because Rodin also admired M's form sense and other smallish details of his figurative execution as can be seen in Rodin's work after the John the Baptist. Rodin was a perceptive artist and came to understand that Michelangelo used certain compositional devices that were universally applicable and..that were and are outside the bounds of a particular time period. These "gestures" form the basis (along with Rodin's own naturalistic bent) for the compact or spiralling forms that can be seen in Rodin's Gates of Hell...from which he drew many of his most famous and successful individual works. Rodin was right in saying he was unlocking the "secrets" of the master, but really they were there to be seen by all...and used or misused by many over the years...though mostly misused. Too much of mimicry is a copy and assimilation/sublimination of artistic ideas is a harder task.

The safest bet is to study Michelangelo's work, but use you own predispositions as to what you are trying to draw from them. Rodin sought and found what was integral to his own process and relative to the time in which he worked. Having gone and studied M's work myself (with much the same purpose as yourself...but realizing that I can not be another artist...only myself) I can say that I took away somethings that were different than what Rodin did and some that were perhaps the same. We are each individual organisms...artistically. To be inspired by the best is logical, but to assume we all need the same things to meet our artistic potential is not. Use a fresh eye in looking on M's work and you will most likely find whatever you truly need. Many have been inspired by that great Italian master only to become poor imitations of him instead of great artists in their own right.
Ancora Imparo
Still I am learning

Michelangelo Buonarroti
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Old 07-07-2008, 09:56 PM
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skip77 skip77 is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

MMan, my daughter and I want to go to Italy also and enjoy the works of Michelangelo, Bernini and others. To answer your question... how to approach Michelangelo: with reverence and lots of hankies!

I started carving birds about 25 years ago, which is a big folk-art passion in my area of the east coast. I enjoyed it very much and won honorable mention ribbons in my first shows. I live near Ocean City, MD where the Ward Foundation World Championship of Waterfowl Carving is held each year. I remember being blown away by hundreds of insane, amazing carvings each year. I could not believe the degree of realism and beauty achieved by so many. One year, a single carving put me out of business for good. After seeing it... studying it many times, and getting back in line each time to do so... it seemed all the air was let out of me and I realized I could do nothing that has not been already done. I quit carving birds.

What was this great piece? It was a cross-section slab or a tree trunk, about 6 inches thick. The top of it was carved to mimic the forest floor, littered with curled autumn leaves and debris... looked just like the real thing. In the middle of the debris, was a partially visible deer antler, arcing up and out at one end and back down into the dry leaves at the other end. A small bird perched on the antler. All was carved from a single piece of wood, with no inlays and additions... a tree stump. All was left in natural wood finish. Stunning piece. I'd seen hundreds and hundreds of beautiful bird carvings over the years, especially at the World Class level of the competition. But this guy... this guy was not even competing at that level, but the next one down Professional level. I was in the Novice category. I never carved another bird and don't regret it at all. I have moved on to apply my skills in other sculpting mediums. I can still see that carved stump... sitting there like a photograph of the real thing... unbelievable.

I hope the works of Michelangelo do not have the same effect on you
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:27 PM
Lorax Lorax is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

The thing I love the most about his work ( and others of his time ) is the use of optical correctness. The David is around 15 feet tall, but when you stand at ground level, what you see is proportionally correct. I enjoy the mechanics of art,as much as the design/finished product. Think about the phenomenal work they created, but the lightbulb hadn't even been invented!

"Creating isn't what you do, it's part of who you are"
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:29 PM
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GlennT GlennT is offline
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Re: How do you approach Michelangelo?

Originally Posted by Lorax View Post
Think about the phenomenal work they created, but the lightbulb hadn't even been invented!
When I was a kid, we had great conversations, and text-messaging wasn't even invented!
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