Artworks
The Creation of Adam

Sr. Contributor

As per usual with a Michelangelo, everyone looks swole.

God doesn't miss leg dayAdam truly must have been created in God's image, considering he's not even one minute old and it looks like his protein powder game is on point. Michelangelo would have been one svelte fellow, too, after he finished the Sistine Chapel. Despite the popular image of the old master painting on his back (inherited wholly from the film The Agony and the Ecstasy), Michelangelo composed this work, along with the rest of the pope's private church, standing upright with his head craned backward. Staying in this position for basically four years straight left him with horrific muscle spasms and grinding headaches.

While the painting's universally beloved today (it's at the top of the list of things our alien overlords need to see upon arrival), Michelangelo started out a big hater on his own project. Thing was that he didn't like to paint. Michelangelo's passion was with sculpture. Before working on the Sistine Chapel, he was prepping for a giant tomb for Pope Julius II. A papal tomb was the best commission a sculptor could hope for, and Michelangelo was psyched at the opportunity. Then, Pope Julius II does a complete 180 and asks the sculptor to put a pin in the tomb and paint the Sistine Chapel. We all know the end result and Michelangelo viewed the gig as a downright conspiracy. His bombastic attitude and general crappy disposition toward others made him plenty of enemies. Surely, he figured, one of them cajoled the pope into assigning Michelangelo a large-scale project on which he'd very publicly crash-and-burn. That didn't happen, of course, but it was at the back of his mind the entire time.

There are a lot of opinions circling around today about the shape of God's locomotive magic carpet. Specifically, that it's a pretty amazing approximation for the shape of a human brain in the midsagittal position. Translation for those that don't speak anatomy nerd: The brain's cut in half with the pituitary gland dangling. Talk of the image's prescient qualities goes back for centuries. For instance, most people talk about the hands of Adam and God (separated by just three-quarters of an inch) as transferring the spark of life, like electricity between brain synapses. The first person to talk about an electric spark between the fingers was the artist Henry Fuseli in the incipient years of the 19th century. So, kind of old hat people. The person to best demonstrate the power of electricity between fingers, though, was E.T. In case you never noticed before, take a look at Creation of Adam and then pull up the poster for E.T. Well played, Spielberg.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Creation of Adam

The Creation of Adam (Italian: Creazione di Adamo) is a fresco painting by Italian artist Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, painted c. 1508–1552. It illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to Adam, the first man. The fresco is part of a complex iconographic scheme and is chronologically the fourth in the series of panels depicting episodes from Genesis.

The image of the near-touching hands of God and Adam has become iconic of humanity. The painting has been reproduced in countless imitations and parodies. Michelangelo's Creation of Adam is one of the most replicated religious paintings of all time.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Creation of Adam.