Posts Tagged ‘art’

Things you didn’t know about Michelangelo

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Michelangelo's <i>David</i>, a Renaissance masterpiece, in Florence. Photo by Elaine Ruffolo

When any art fan thinks of Florence, there is always a connection to Michelangelo. No artist has put his mark on the city quite like he has. Yet, how much do we really know about him? Although his reputation has spanned centuries, he was human like the rest of us – with ups and downs in his own life. Here are a few things about this iconic artist that you might not know.

1. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born March 6, 1475.

2. The family business was small-scale banking, a trade that had been passed down for generations. But his father struggled to keep the business successful, and took government positions to supplement the family income. Because of this break in tradition, Michelangelo was free to explore other career opportunities.

3. At the age of 17, Michelangelo worked as Bertoldo di Giovanni’s apprentice, as did fellow contemporary Pietro Torrigiano. It was Pietro who punched Michelangelo, resulting in a broken nose that is clearly reflective of every portrait of Michelangelo.

4. When Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the original idea was to paint the 12 Apostles against a starry sky. But the artist insisted on a more complex theme, and when it was finally completed it included 300 figures highlighting stories from the Book of Genesis.

5. Although many of Michelangelo’s most notable works were created earlier in his life—Pietà, for example, was carved when he was 24 years old —He lived a surprisingly long life and passed away at the age of 88.  

Who is your favorite Renaissance artist – Michelangelo, Raphael, or Da Vinci?

Explore the Italian Renaissance with new eyes and perspectives when you travel to Florence with Smithsonian.

Mad About Munch: Norway’s Iconic Art

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Arne Lunde is an Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies at UCLA.  Below, he shares his thoughts about last year’s Smithsonian trip to Norway. To read more about Arne, click here.

To be able to see the many works of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch up close and in the country where most of his paintings remain to this day was an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I’ve long admired Munch’s artistic expressions. In Scandinavia he is considered one of the greatest visual artists, and his international stature has only grown with time. He’s also a far more diverse and complex artist than being merely the creator of The Scream, his immortal distillation of angst. Munch’s lifelong Frieze of Life project reveals an intense psychological vision into the emotional lives of himself and of human beings universally. And the beauty and dynamism of his colors and composition rival that of his contemporaries Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. (more…)