A Report on Michelangelo's Fresco Creation of Adam on the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Topics: Michelangelo

Michelangelo: The Sistine Chapel

During the movement known as the Renaissance, artists transitioned from the Middle Ages, and found new inspiration once again in portraying humanistic subject matter. To do this, Renaissance artists rediscovered previous artistic practices from looking to ancient Greek, and Roman style, architecture and sculpture. Artists in the Renaissance continued painting religious subject matter from the influence of the Middle Ages; however, the delicacy, anatomical correctness, perspective, and realistic beauty of the Renaissance was what differentiated these artists from the past.

But perhaps some of the most symbolic, and influential, pieces of art from the Renaissance are the frescoes located on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, created by Michelangelo Buonarotti, from 1508-1512.

More specifically, for this thesis, the Creation of Adam. The Sistine Chapel is located in Vatican City, which in itself shows ties to Catholicism, but perhaps, more importantly, the chapel is where the College of Cardinals is to decide the Pope’s (the leader of the Catholic Church) successor.

The fresco panels atop Sistine Chapel depict scenes from the Bible’s Book of Genesis: the creation of man. In the Creation of Adam, Michelangelo skillfully depicts the beautiful creation of man. Adam is seated gently on a newly created Earth-like platform, almost as if he is soulless. He is not yet alive. Life is given to man only by the creator who is shown, accompanied by angels, in motion, toward Adam, with an outstretched arm containing the essential electricity of life’. It is only through the touch of God that brings Adam life.

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Seeing the almighty light of God in the distance, and beginning to experience the sensation of life, Adam matches the outstretched arm of God with one of his own. It is at this point of contact, this moment in time, man was created. This power of God helps to further the tie to the Catholic Church. The Creation of Adam suggests that God’s almighty powers work as unnoticeably as that of electricity, and even God’s thought can bring something in being. This fresco gives the viewer the ability to understand the Renaissance’s obsession with the anatomical correctness, and proportion, of the human figure. Michelangelo was specifically obsessed with this. While he paints Adam a bit stylized, Michelangelo ensures that he is anatomically correct, aesthetically pleasing, and of accurate proportion.

Not only this, but the stark asymmetrical balance subconsciously impacts this powerful fresco. On one side of the piece, there is God, the almighty being, creator of the universe coming to give life to man; however, on the other side, we have the foreshadowed product of God, man, and the vast Earth; allowing Michelangelo to create a ‘heavenly balance’. Moreover, the leading lines of both God, and Adam, create a theological suspense: where one cannot help but almost feel the connection between the two – a witness to the creation of man.

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A Report on Michelangelo's Fresco Creation of Adam on the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. (2022, Mar 07). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-report-on-michelangelo-s-fresco-creation-of-adam-on-the-ceiling-of-the-sistine-chapel/

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