Piedad Rondanini Analysis Essay

El final de la vida de Miguel Ángel es una etapa difícil, si ya de por sí fue un hombre atormentado por su compleja vida interior, en esa última etapa aumentaron sus dudas y conflictos interiores, que darán lugar al Miguel Ángel más intimista, más reflexivo y para muchos estudiosos de su figura, también el más platónico. Por eso sus ideas se convierten ahora en forma (y no al revés) y esas formas en arte puro, en un arte de la reflexión y de la Idea más que de la observación de la naturaleza.

El mejor ejemplo de todo ello es su última obra, la Piedad Rondanini. Puede decirse que ella es la culminación de su particular manierismo: alargamiento extremo de los cánones, ingravidez y desequilibrio, pulidos incompletos, y una extraña desazón que nos alcanza al contemplarla. La misma que provocan el dolor y la muerte de un hijo en manos de su madre. No sólo nos transmite esa sensación la disposición huidiza del cuerpo de Cristo que se resbala de los brazos de su madre, a la que se le escapa literalmente de las manos para siempre. Es la talla, esa talla extraña que ha dejado partes pulidas y partes sin hacer la que por una parte nos confunde, pero por otra nos conmueve. Porque ahí está contenida toda la expresividad del dolor: en el escultor incapaz de concluir tanta tragedia y en las figuras incapaces de concretar en una imagen su penar porque eso es imposible. La Piedad Rondanini es así como un suspiro, una pieza frágil que parece decirnos adiós. Miguel Ángel estaba en realidad escribiendo con ella su testamento, y estaba diciéndole al futuro que la creación es una Idea y que esa Idea es el arte.

Qué diferencia con la Pietá del Vaticano, donde prevalecía todavía la belleza. La Piedad Rondanini por el contrario es puro misticismo, es religiosidad profunda y sentimiento, es pleno espiritualidad: la de la unión más allá de la materia entre Madre e hijo. Por eso no importa no haberla terminado, porque no importan la apariencias, importa sólo aquello que la apariencia es capaz de hacernos sentir. En este caso, de hacernos penar.

Study Questions

How did Michelangelo's religious beliefs influence his work? Discuss his religious life in relation to his work, particularly his later work, with specific reference to the impact of the Counter-Reformation.

Michelangelo's Last Judgment was not as well received by religious figures as it was by artists and it inspired considerable controversy with the onset of the Counter-Reformation in the 1540s. The Council of Trent, which organized the Counter-Reformation, decided in 1563 to prohibit the use of the nude in religious art, and Pope Pius IV followed up on this edict by hiring Michelangelo's follower Daniele da Volterra to paint drapery over many of the nudes in the Last Judgment. Although Michelangelo's public response to criticism from Pope Paul IV was vehement, his poems reveal that his personal response to these matters was less certain. The Protestant and Counter- Reformation attacks on Michelangelo's art were partly responsible for prompting an increase in religious piety in Michelangelo. This newfound piety accounts in large part for Michelangelo's turn from art to architecture later in his life.

Michelangelo's increasing melancholy and preoccupation with spiritual salvation also prompted a change in his art. His final pietas represent a kind of personal offering to Christ, an expiation for the artist's own feelings of sexual guilt and spiritual uncertainty. Michelangelo's Rondanini Pieta, although mutilated, is a profound expression of his emotional and psychological state late in his life. The elongated figures, dislocated and almost grotesquely contorted, offer evidence of Michelangelo's deep spiritual crisis and anxieties about dying.

Discuss the intellectual and spiritual conflicts evident in Michelangelo's work, and how these relate to High Renaissance ideals, particularly those of Neoplatonism.

Michelangelo is perhaps the artist most representative of all the aims and ideals of the High Renaissance. His influential and eclectic body of work epitomizes the interior conflicts and paradoxes of the period. The lofty aspirations of the High Renaissance artists could only go so far before they transformed themselves into something quite different. With its combination of Classical and Christian myths and forms, Neoplatonism was already contradictory, and Michelangelo's art embraced many of these contradictory themes. His sculpture depicts the human form as an intensely conflicted, physically tense body, frozen in time but full of energy, seemingly ready to explode. Michelangelo apparently viewed the human body in light of his own body, with guilt-ridden, contradictory feelings–on the one hand, he viewed it through the lens of Classical and Renaissance humanism, which viewed the body as a divine and noble form; on the other hand, he viewed the body in light of his own repressed homosexuality, as a prison for the soul and its free expression.

Essay Topics

How did Michelangelo's homosexuality affect his art, his poetry, and his psychological understanding of himself?

Discuss Michelangelo's long and complicated relationship to the Medici family. Did they play a positive or negative role in his career?

How are Michelangelo's architectural achievements similar to his sculpture? How are they different?

What is the relationship between the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the Last Judgment altarpiece? How does the latter represent a change in Michelangelo's spiritual perspective, and how is that change communicated?

What is meant by High Renaissance? Discuss this style's departure from and similarities to the Early Renaissance, as well as its effect on the artist's social and cultural role.

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