|Michelangelo, David, 1501-04|
1. The only work that Michelangelo signed is the Pieta; his signature is on the Madonna’s breast.
2. The sculpture was originally placed outside at the Piazza della Signoria.. Due to destruction by weather and birds the David was eventually moved inside of the Galleria dellAccademia and a copy was made and placed outside near the Palazzo Vecchio The viewing experience is complete different. Inside the sculpture is monumental. The figure is placed at the end of a narrow hallway flanked by the Captives. There is a glass dome above the figure creating a cascade of hallowed light. Out side the sculpture is dwarfed by the sky.
3. Snakes are the universal symbol for fertility.. Note: Genesis, Garden of Eden.
4. Subtractive process: the carving away of materials presents many challenges. Each kind stone, or wood, has different density and hardness. Marble is an ideal material because it is softer and easier to carve then granite but stronger then limestone or sandstone and it is available in a gazillion colors. The veins of the rock has to be worked into the design. Natural flaws can cause a piece to shatter. The artist has to pre- determine how the image will fit into the block; what parts will be closest to raw edges and what parts will be in the interior space. Aesthetic choices must be balanced with the practical. The design of the piece has to be weighted to “stand up.” Many artists of the time worked these sculptures using ONE block of stone. It would have been easier to use several stones.
Additive sculpture technique builds up the sculpting medium. In Michelangelo’s time, this was usually clay on top of a metal armature. The process allows the artist to change their mind frequently.
Additive processes accept greater protrusions, as there are no outside limitations. Larger spaces within the design can be physically supported internally. It is also possible to weight the bottom for physical balance. Upon completion, a mold of the clay sculpture is made and the piece is caste into metal or stone compound. Some molding materials allow multiple castings.
The only advantage of subtractive technique is the physical beauty of the material.
5. Nine years later, 1513-16, Michelangelo carves the Captives. They are the quintessential example of humans breaking out of stone.
6. Music is called classical in the 17th century
7. The golden rectangle was based on the number of ascending seeds in a sunflower or the chambers of a nautilus shell.
8. Negative space is the compositional space between solid forms in a work of art. It serves to unify the solid forms with the surrounding area. It was unusual for the David to have such large negatives in the bottom third of the sculpture. It is much harder to keep a sculpture upright if there is not tremendous weight on the bottom. Usually figures were draped creating a weighted closed form. The David is naked. Michelangelo had to balance the gestures to keep the sculpture upright. Henry Moore, a twentieth century sculptor, said that the holes in his works, connect the front of the work to the back. In Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling painting of G-d giving life to Adam, the negative space between the fingers of G-d and Adam is the implied energy of life.