Thursday, November 5, 2009

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." Michelangelo

Still remember going to see the David at the Galleria dell'Accademia with a Canadian student I'd met on the train to Florence. "Wow, it's amazing" she said as we made our way toward the David. She glanced at the infiniti (unfinished slaves) that stood along the side of the hall. "Some of these others aren't so good." Someone overheard her and set her straight: the four slaves had been commissioned for the tomb of Pope Julius, but they never were completed. And many think it's just as well.

Above is Atlas.
I think it's my favorite - so much power and movement.

The weight of the world is so clearly upon him even if you can only tell roughly where Atlas' head would be.

Apparently Michelangelo usually began work on the torso and
proceeded to chisel from the center of the piece to the extremities. Of course he famously spoke of his work as merely freeing the figure from the stone, but it seems there's something more to it than that. He had to be able to see it first in his mind's eye before he could free it. It's incredible to think that one could create so flawlessly with no do-overs.

Some scholars think the statue known as the Bearde
d Slave was finished by someone else. Don't the legs look too short and rather awkward?

As a point of comparison, here's the Dying Slave. It's at the Louvre and he's very much finished, dreamy, beautiful, highly polished and looking very near giving up the ghost.

Do you spend much time deciding what degree of finish you want with your work, be it artwork or writing? Is there a rawness that is appealing? Or do you struggle with whether the rawness will just seem . . .not dealt with sufficiently? Unedited?

Some years ago during a class at Otis I was encouraged not to finish a piece, just to stop. While the painting has other short-comings, the thing I now like best about it is the unfinished lower edge.

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