Sunday, February 3, 2013

Italian Renaissance (pt. 18)

Arguably the most famous of the images depicted on the ceiling is that of the Creation of Adam, where God, swooping down from Heaven, all the while being dissuaded by a host of angels, stretches out His arm and reaches for Adam's hand.  Adam, seated comfortably back on a grassy hilltop, extends his arm lazily and barely lifts his hand to meet God's.  Their hands do not touch.
The tiny space between their two index fingers is meant to make us uneasy.  I heard an explanation that the human mind functions in such a way that it needs to have tiny gaps filled in—(the example of this is the optical illusion of all the boxes on the white backdrop, and you think you can see shadows at the corners of the boxes, but really it is only white, empty space that our mind is wanting to fill in).  Also ideologically, we desire the connection of God and Man (at least, the people back then did—I'm not sure society today cares much for meeting with God on any level).  So, the gap left is unnerving, and the blame goes to Adam, who could easily touch God's outstretched finger by a mere lift of his own by about a fraction of an inch.  But no.  Adam does not make the extra effort.  What would you say, then, was Michelangelo's view on religion and on humanism?  Whereas the Renaissance brings out the celebration of mankind and the rise of humanism, this is one of the few (if not the only) good depiction of humanism as a bad thing: humans thinking they are too self-important and not needing God.

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