Michelangelo: Michael, the Angel of Creation

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“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come.”
~ Michelangelo

Today is the 537th anniversary of the birth of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, more popularly known simply as Michelangelo.

Best known for his sculpture and statues, Michelangelo was also a renowned painter, and not-so-renowned poet. (Some of the poetry is lovely; some if it is, well, not so much.  The mention of cabbage in a love poem brings down the tone somewhat.)

Despite his fame and popularity, and the occasional (but not sufficiently frequent) generosity of his patrons, he did not live the life of a Renaissance Rock Star.  His contemporaries noted that he was not particularly polished, nor did he enjoy casual socializing. He was an artist who lived to create, keeping his life confined to basic physical needs and the creation of art.

Wikipedia informs us:

He told his apprentice, Ascanio Condivi: “However rich I may have been, I have always lived like a poor man.” Condivi said he was indifferent to food and drink, eating “more out of necessity than of pleasure” and that he “often slept in his clothes and … boots.”

Definitely not a Renaissance Rock Star, unlike his contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci.

As someone supported by patronage, Michelangelo’s society expected that he would be sociable and make himself agreeable to his patrons and peers. That was of no interest to him; he preferred to spend his time creating, or reading alone when he was not working.

He had no personal life to speak of – he never married, never had any reported indiscretions with the daughters of patrons, never had his name linked romantically with anyone in the rich and celebrated circles in which he found himself, never fathered any children.

He had peers, he had acquaintances, and some historians speculate that he had a relationship with Tommaso dei Cavalieri towards the end of his life.  He did not have any of the usual relationship with which people fill their lives.

What he had was an amazing gift to create art out of stone; bringing blocks of rock to life, creating something out of nothing, as did the Great Creator he depicted in his work again and again.  In his own words, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

My favorite painting is the Delphic Sybil:

Delphica, by Michelangelo

He lived his life as a continuous act of creation – if he was awake, he was creating.  Divine inspiration? Divine madness?

For Michelangelo, a simple spread – The Angel in the Marble. You can use this spread to find the Angel in the marble of your current circumstances.

4.  Angel

3. Chisel               2.  Hammer

1.  Marble

 

1.  The Marble: What you have to work with; your starting point.

2.  Hammer: What you can do externally to chip away what is blocking or unnecessary.

3.  Chisel: What you can do internally to remove the blocks.

4.  Angel: The peak manifestation of your work.

 

 

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