Artist
Michelangelo
Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet

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Michelangelo
Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet
5
Average: 5 (4 votes)

Birth Date

March 06, 1475

Death Date

February 18, 1564

Arty Fact

mhoutzager's picture

Contributor

Michelangelo did pretty well considering his father did not want him to become an artist, and tried to beat the idea out of him with a stick.

Pope Julius II also beat Michelangelo with a stick. When he asked Michelangelo, "When will you finish the Sistine chapel?", Michelangelo chieekily replaid, "When I can." Julius then whacked him and repeated "When I can, when I can!" (whack, whack). 

Michelangelo was very gay, and tormented by it. He had a habit of painting nude young boys into scenes where they had no business, and scenes with piles of naked men for no obvious reason. You'd ask the guy,"Paint me a battle scene", and he'd paint the soldiers bathing before being attacked. (This really happened, look it up). He wrote passionate love letters to his male love interests, and poems about his longing for them, as well as less sexy poems beating himself up for being a sinner. It is not clear if he actually acted on his homosexual desire, other than through art. He believed chastity was good for your health and lived to age 88 during a time when the average life span was only 35! Not sure if that's a worthwhile trade-off.

He loved sculpture and hated painting, even though he was one of the greatest painters of all time. He said "the more painting resembles sculpture, the more I like it, and the more sculpture resembles painting, the less I like it". However he admitted that he was able to do more than just sculpt, and once said "Believe it or not, I can actually draw." He hated religious artworks, which he thought were "only suitable for very old or very young women," and landscape painting, which he thought was "a game for children and uneducated men." The sassy Sistine-painter also hated Raphael for jacking his style.

 

ali's picture

Contributor

 Michelangelo, the iconic artist and Ninja Turtle, was the Regina George of his day.

The epitome of the Renaissance artist– sculptor, architect, painter, poet, jack-of-all-trades, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni–was born on March 6, 1475 to a family of minor nobility in Florence. He began his career relatively late at 13, apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio. He blended Classical antiquity with Florentine tradition, and is perhaps best known for his expressive faces as well as his nudes that displayed his deep understanding of the male anatomy. Florence was politically unstable at the time, so Michelangelo was a nomad, moving from Bologna to Rome back to Florence and then back to Rome.

His big break was his Pietà, commissioned by Cardinal Jean de Bilhères shortly after he arrived in Rome, featuring a youthful Virgin Mary with thighs thick enough to rival the Kardashians (and support the weight of the crucified Christ). Soon after he returned to Florence to create another one of his iconic pieces, David. Originally meant for the roof of the Florence Cathedral, the statue was so well-recieved that it was placed instead in the public square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, in the Piazza della Signoria.

After its completion, he was given a commission for Battle of Cascina for the Palazzo Vecchio, showcasing his command of anatomy, opposite Leonardo da Vinci's Battle of Anghiara, beginning a feud between the two artists. Like any good rivalry, they took it to the streets, with Michelangelo taunting Leonardo for not completing a horse statue in Milan. Leonardo took a more passive approach, leaving for France once he couldn’t take Michelangelo’s bullying and delivering first-degree burns insulting the “wooden” qualities of Michelangelo’s painting...in his diary.

A continuous patron in his later years was the papacy, especially Pope Julius, who commissioned his next and perhaps best known work–the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes including the Creation of Adam and the Last Judgement. Michelangelo was less thrilled about the commission, believing that it was a plot between his rivals Raphael and Bramante to divert him from sculpting into a medium where they thought he would be less successful. Vasari, the first art historian and author of the Renaissance burn book "The Lives of the Artists," attributed the success of the frescoes to the envy of Michelangelo’s contemporaries. He described Michelangelo’s genius saying,  “He who bears the palm of both the living and the dead, transcending and eclipsing all others, is the divine Michelangelo Buonarroti, who holds sovereignty of not merely one of these arts, but of all three altogether," and beating his competition with a “crisis of perfection”.

If Michelangelo was the Regina George and Vasari the Gretchen Weiners stroking his ever-growing ego, Sebastiano Luciani was the Karen Smith of the Renaissance. Michelangelo hated painting, especially oil. He called it “false and artificial," dubbing it the medium of the laziest artists. However, after the Sistine chapel ceiling frescoes, there came a new pope, Leo X, who preferred Raphael’s painting. Michelangelo refused to paint, but could not let go of his competitive nature, and so hired young Venetian painter Sebastiano Luciani to do it for him. 

Besides the visual arts, Michelangelo was also gifted in sonnets, the rhyme scheme of love. (And sometimes agony in the case of the sonnet he wrote about the pain he endured in the creation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes.) There were two main muses who inspired his prose, Tommaso Cavaleri, a young Roman aristocrat, and Vittoria Colonna, a pious widow.

Middle-aged Michelangelo’s love for twenty-something Tommaso transcended pen and paper, and he is thought to have inspired his drawings of Ganymede and Tityos. Ganymede, a beautiful boy captured by Jupiter to become one of his cupbearers, embodied spiritual love, while Tityos, a giant caught trying to seduce Latona (mother of Apollo and Diana) and punished by being chained to a rock and having his intestines repeatedly eaten out, embodied carnal. It is unclear whether Michelangelo and Tommaso’s relationship was platonic or sexual, as there is speculation that Michelangelo was homosexual (a trait perhaps present in his passion for depicting nude male bodies).

His love for Vittoria was the complete opposite. She was also younger than the artist, but she wore the pants in the relationship. Although she was devout and ascetic, she was also self-assured and charismatic due to her aristocratic upbringing and her establishment in the intellectual circles of Ischia and Naples. She was a poet herself, mostly of spiritual poetry, and heavily involved with the reform movement. She often wrote of reform doctrine and was known for her piety and virtue. She thought highly of Michelangelo's work, but in her mind, Jesus was higher. She just wasn’t that into him and in her last letter, she responded that she had not replied to all of his letters due to her duties at the convent and that he should be less neglectful of his to the pope.

His last project was St. Peter’s Basilica. The project was originally given to Bramante, but with the upheaval of the papacy, money was short and production was halted. Michelangelo was made chief architect, updating Bramante’s design and construction progressed. Ultimately it was too slow and he died before its completion.

 

Sources

Sources

  1. Adler, Sara M. "Vittoria Colonna: Michelangelo's Perfect Muse." Italica 92, no. 1 (2015): 5-32. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43895220.
  2. Cadogan, Jean K. The Sixteenth Century Journal 42, no. 4 (2011): 1147-149. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23210661.
  3. Farago, Claire J. "Leonardo's Battle of Anghiari: A Study in the Exchange between Theory and Practice." The Art Bulletin 76, no. 2 (1994): 301-30. doi:10.2307/3046024.
  4. Gilbert, Creighton E. “Michelangelo.” Britannica. March 2, 2019. Accessed June 26, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Michelangelo.
  5. Jones, Jonathon. “And the winner is…” The Guardian. 22 October 2002. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2002/oct/22/artsfeatures.highereduca....
  6. Jones, Jonathon. “Blood on the canvas: the greatest feuds in art history.” The Guardian. 12 March 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2015/mar/12/b...
  7. Liebert, Robert S. "Raphael, Michelangelo, Sebastiano: High Renaissance Rivalry." Source: Notes in the History of Art 3, no. 2 (1984): 60-68.
  8. Manca, Joseph. "Michelangelo as Painter: A Historiographic Perspective." Artibus Et Historiae 16, no. 31 (1995): 111-23. doi:10.2307/1483500.
  9. “Michelangelo.” Biography.com. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.biography.com/artist/michelangelo.

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Michelangelo

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (Italian: [mikeˈlandʒelo di lodoˈviːko ˌbwɔnarˈrɔːti siˈmoːni]; 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), known best as simply Michelangelo (English: /ˌmkəlˈænəl, ˌmɪk-/), was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance born in the Republic of Florence, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Considered by many the greatest artist of his lifetime, and by some the greatest artist of all time, his artistic versatility was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival, the fellow Florentine and client of the Medici, Leonardo da Vinci.

A number of Michelangelo's works of painting, sculpture and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. His output in these fields was prodigious; given the sheer volume of surviving correspondence, sketches and reminiscences, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century. He sculpted two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, before the age of thirty. Despite holding a low opinion of painting, he also created two of the most influential frescoes in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and The Last Judgment on its altar wall. His design of the Laurentian Library pioneered Mannerist architecture. At the age of 74, he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter's Basilica. He transformed the plan so that the western end was finished to his design, as was the dome, with some modification, after his death.

Michelangelo was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive. In fact, two biographies were published during his lifetime. One of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that Michelangelo's work transcended that of any artist living or dead, and was "supreme in not one art alone but in all three".

In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called Il Divino ("the divine one"). His contemporaries often admired his terribilità—his ability to instil a sense of awe. Attempts by subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo's impassioned, highly personal style resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Michelangelo.

Comments (10)

Cocoon

Hey Sartle, I actually used your site while visiting Rome :). Love the trivia anecdotes that none of the other art sites have...

thinkstuff101

He was allegedly gay and also allegedly had terrible personal hygiene. This offends my stronghold belief in stereotypes, one of which is that gay people have better personal hygiene than straight people.

RichardComstock

WHAT A RIDICULOUS THING TO SUGGEST I HOPE YOU ARE JOKING - RICHRD COMSTOCK

thinkstuff101

Nope, serious. Many people are saying it. Believe me 100%. Wait, that did not come out right. Yes I am serious, Even though he was rich, he lived in squalor, and he rarely if ever bathed.

pogo agogo

Didn't everybody back then have back hygiene?

heyimwalkinhere

back, front, top and bottom--you name it they had it! Hey!

jeremy_f

i hope he was gay, the idea of a homoerotic sistine chapel is 2 good

Francisco

I stand by my carefully researched finding that he was as gay as gay can be.

thinkstuff101

Homo sapiens erotic, certainly...

spurklin targedash

Is there any doubt?