Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Medici Chapel and the David

Today we got up and went to the Medici Chapel, which was breathtaking and utterly stunning. The chapel itself had ceilings so high that were painted for people who were obviously wealthy. There were even sarcophagi? on the walls.

The lower piece of the high altar in the Medici's own private chapel was solely made of rocks and rice mosaics. Even looking at them up close it seemed nearly impossible to tell it was a mosaic; it looked like a painting.

Beautiful, beautiful art. I only wish they would let us take pictures of these amazing things!!!!

Next, we went to the Bargello, a museum primarily featuring statues. That was pretty interesting, but the tour was pretty long. Since the Link crew didn't have headphones, it was extremely hard to hear the tour guide unless you were right up next to her while she was talking. So we explored by ourselves.

It's so interesting to see the aspects that make the art: the brush strokes, the chisel marks, the flaws, the reconstructions.... you can't see that in a textbook. Also, seeing unfinished art was fascinating since you got to see the process. I saw so much beauty today.

After we went to the Bargello and lunch, Gabrielle and I went to the Accademia to see the David. Let me just tell you a little bit about that experience.

First, (this should be no surprise with Gabrielle and me, two directionally challenged people..) we couldn't find the Accademia. We walked around until we saw on the map about where it was supposed to be. When we saw the word Accademia on the wall of a building around that spot, we walked into it. There were all these statues, but nowhere to pay. And we thought that was strange. So we wandered around, asking ourselves and each other, "where is the David?" Yeah. Soon enough we realized the place we were was not THE Accademia, but the school of art for licensure.

When we finally found the Accademia, (a door in a rundown building with graffiti on the outside..) we thought surely this could not be where it was! It is not quite the glamorous Galleria dell' Accademia anyone would think it would be. I mean, Michelangelo carved the DAVID out of a single piece of leftover marble he found in a back alley. It deserves a grandiose building, not a rundown one. But alas, it was! After we went inside and took a gander at the paintings in the front room and the unfinished sculptures in the second- there it was in all its glory.

The David.

At first, when we walked into the unfinished sculpture room we didn't notice the giant statue at the end of the hallway. When I first saw it I just stopped and said to Gabrielle "uh....statue. STATUE."



I just pointed. There was nothing else I could really do or say. Our reactions spoke for themselves. We walked to the back where David stood, eternally posing.

We just stared.

And stared. And walked around and stared some more.

I can't describe how magnificent this piece of artwork is. And I tried. Surely this giant man was real just posing to be a statue. He was so lifelike that there was no way that was inanimate.

His ribcage looked like he was just holding his breath, about to breathe at any second. His hamstring literally looked stretched due to the position that he was in, and you could almost imagine the ligament extending, connecting the bones.

His neck muscles were perfectly portrayed for the direction he was looking, and his kneecaps were so intricately detailed I thought it could be a real knee.

But oh, his hair! Each curl, delicately shaped... each carved so carefully from marble.. and it still fell flawlessly over his forehead.

What really got me, however, was the veins in his hands. I teared up when I noticed them; I turned to Gabrielle and just whispered, "There are veins in his hands."

I just never could imagine art to be so beautiful.

Gabrielle and I didn't talk much. We just stood in awe. When she did speak, however, it said everything. "..Wow." I said, "Yeah." And that's pretty much how I can describe it.

You could SEE the chisel marks where Michelangelo carved away at David's toes. His back muscles flexed as his arms raised. The shoulder strap to his leather sling hung in the perfect spot.

I just can't believe something that spectacular was created by chipping away at a block. Nothing was built up; every indent was created by taking away some marble. What happened if you chipped off too much? Would the nose come off like the Sphinx? It just blows my mind that someone can take something solid and structurally sound, and take away little pieces until it produces something as extraordinary, moving and inspirational as the David.

Staring at his face, he seemed as if he was going to turn at me and walk away. He seemed like he should actually be seeing- like he was really staring at the wall full of extremely realistic paintings that looked like HD photographs. I felt like he saw me.

I grew up a bit today.

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