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The Divine Michelangelo

The prophet jeremiah

By Kahren Jones Arbitman

Michelangelo is the greatest artist who ever lived. Wow! That’s quite a statement considering that art appreciation is such a personal matter. Who’s to say that Mozart is better than Beethoven or Dante’s talent exceeds that of Shakespeare? Taste, time, and experience allow for lots of divergent opinions. But in the world of fine arts, Michelangelo is without peer. He not only exceeded all others in sculpture, which he considered to be his only true art, but also in painting, architecture, and poetry. Serve up as many names of extraordinary artists as you wish, no one can top the breadth of Michelangelo’s genius.

“The Divine Michelangelo”
By Kahren Jones Arbitman
Thu, Aug 10, 5pm
Concert Hall, second floor Bellas Artes
Hernández Macías
150 pesos donation to the Festival Internacional de Musica

What would it have been like to live in Florence or Rome between 1475 and 1564? Imagine how Michelangelo’s contemporaries felt when first entering the Sistine Chapel without benefit of knowing it vicariously through photos or the internet. How staggered would they have been by the explosion of genius that poured forth overhead? Or imagine the overwhelming awe that Florentines must have experienced in 1504 when they first turned the corner on the Piazza Vecchia and were confronted by the astounding figure of Michelangelo’s David? Even now, despite the over-saturation of images of this world-famous sculpture, noisy crowds fall eerily silent when physically standing before it.

Not surprisingly, Michelangelo’s contemporaries recognized that his talent was unlike anything they had ever seen. To them, he was sent from God. He was divine. For almost 90 years Michelangelo was the titan who dwarfed all others. And in the 450 years since, his place on that exalted pinnacle has remained unassailable. But Michelangelo’s genius came at a price. Princes, popes, and all manner of highborn families wanted a part of him. Throughout his career, Michelangelo was pressed into service by one prelate after another, all of whom insisted he abandon his previous commitments and devote himself entirely to them. In the process, Michelangelo felt an overwhelming sense of failure: to his patrons, to his art, and to himself. Unlike everyone around him who thought he was supernatural, Michelangelo was profoundly aware of his humanity. Beneath the accolades and adulation, the Divine Michelangelo remained a very mortal man.

The lecture takes place Thursday, August 10, at 5pm in the concert hall in the Bellas Artes. Tickets are 150 pesos. All proceeds benefit the San Miguel International Chamber Music Festival, now celebrating its 39th consecutive year. Tickets are available at the Festival office on the second floor of the Bellas Artes or at the door.

Please mark your calendar for her second lecture, “Caravaggio: Hell on Wheels and Heaven on Canvas,” on Thursday, August 17, 5pm, Bellas Artes concert hall.

Kahren Arbitman, PhD, is an art historian and former curator and art museum director.


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