In her analysis of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment," Bernadine Barnes provides an original and stimulating view of this renowned fresco and of the audience for which it was created. Because Michelangelo is so often regarded as a nearly superhuman artistic genius, we tend to forget that his works were not created to illustrate his life. The "Last Judgment" did have great personal meaning for him, but his representation of this religious event was not purely self-directed, says Barnes. She argues that Michelangelo had a particular type of viewer in mind as he designed his work.
The "Last Judgment" dealt with an especially evocative subject, and Michelangelo engaged viewers by creating highly imaginative scenes tempering fear with hope and by referring to contemporary events. The painting's original, elite audience--the papal court and a handful of distinguished lay persons--was sophisticated about art and poetry, almost exclusively male, and orthodox in its religious beliefs. That audience later broadened and included artists allowed into the Chapel to copy Michelangelo's work. These artists helped to create another, less sophisticated audience, one that knew the fresco only through reproductions and written descriptions. The response of this latter audience eventually prompted the church to censor the painting.
Beautifully illustrated with photographs of the recently restored Sistine Chapel, Barnes's study greatly enhances our understanding of changing Renaissance attitudes toward art. Her book also provides valuable insights into one of Michelangelo's greatest works.
"Professor Barnes makes us aware of Michelangelo as a controversial artist by highlighting the differences between the various audiences in the Sistine Chapel to whom the work would have been addressed and the range of literary and art critics in the sixteenth century who wrote about the fresco."--"Sixteenth Century Journal
|List of Illustrations|
|The Spectator's Place in Italian Last Judgments||p. 7|
|Aura and Audience in the Sistine Chapel||p. 39|
|The Last Judgment and the Critics||p. 71|
|Metaphorical Painting: Michelangelo, Dante, and the Last Judgment||p. 102|
|Epilogue: Continuity and Criticism in the Later Sixteenth Century||p. 124|
|Photograph Credits||p. 166|
|Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.|
Series: Discovery Series
Number Of Pages: 160
Published: 12th February 1998
Publisher: University of California Press
Dimensions (cm): 26.0 x 17.8 x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.685