Saturday, May 04, 2024

Everybody Knows About Michelangelo's Work - Do They Really?

Bishop Robert Barron in his Book Pivotal Players includes Michelangelo as one and explains the challenge  we face when trying to appreciate widely known art: "A serious problem in approaching any of Michelangelo's great works is that they become so familiar, so iconic, that we convince ourselves too easily that we already know them - along the lines of familiarity breeds contempt, as in Mark 6:1.Pietà is case in point.  Bishop Barton goes on to describe Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel and the Pietà.  

Pope Francis just celebrated the 70th anniversary of Fellini’s "La Strada." According to the Vatican News, as a child' Pope Francis was a fan of  Italian cinema dating from the neorealist era.  "He would visit the neighborhood cinema in Buenos Aires with his parents, where up to three films were shown in a row, or watch them during afternoons spent at his Grandma Rosa's house.
But of all these films, one in particular struck his soul, so much so that he has repeatedly cited it during his pontificate as a film from which to draw an almost evangelical lesson: "La Strada."

Genuine Art

The Catholic Catechism (2502) teaches art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God - the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature," in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.

Art Music is generally regarded as there to be listened to, not just heard. It asks for your concentrated attention over time, a willingness to stay with it in the belief that it will deliver more with each listening. It means suspending the question, “Do I like it?” and asking instead, “What’s going on here?” And the Christian can ask a further question: “What might I learn theologically from what’s going on here?” A good start is to listen to these six artists:

1. J. S. Bach (1685–1750), St. Matthew Passion

2. G. F. Handel (1685–1759), Messiah

3. W. A. Mozart (1756–1791), Piano Concerto, No. 21 in C major, K.467, last movement

4. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”), fourth and fifth movements

5. Sergei Rachmaninov (1873–1943), Piano Concerto No. 2, Adagio sostenuto

6. James MacMillan (1959–), Seven Last Words from the Cross

In the middle of the 18th century, Europe began to move toward a new style in architecture, literature, and the arts, generally known as Neoclassicism. Classical music used formality and emphasis on order and hierarchy and a clearer, cleaner style that used clearer divisions between parts (notably a clear, single melody accompanied by chords), brighter contrasts, and "tone colors" (achieved by the use of dynamic changes and modulations to more keys). In contrast with the richly layered music of the Baroque era, Classical music moved towards simplicity rather than complexity. In addition, the typical size of orchestras began to increase,[l giving orchestras a more powerful sound.

On Michelangelo 

Bishop Robert Barron writes about Michelangelo: "Over an against the puritanical and iconoclastic strain, Michelangelo proves that the sensual, the artistic and the beautiful can be a vehicle to the spiritual. He confirms, more convincingly than any other figure in the Catholic artistic tradition, the great Incarnational principle."

Pietà is unique in skill, conception, and accomplishment. Considered by many the most important sculpture of the Italian Renaissance, this marvel merged the classical ideal of beauty with the astonishing naturalism and skill that made his art priceless and irreplaceable. This fortuitous marriage of the natural beauty of marble and genius is unique.

"One of the most extraordinary features of the Pietà, from a purely structural or compositional standpoint, is how Michelangelo nanage to make the figures of Jesus and Mary look so natural and elegant together, despite the fact that what is bring presented is a woman supporting the body of an adult man on her lap. On fact, Mary's body is significantly larger than that of Jesus. She contains him. In the wonderful words of Sr.Wendy Beckett, she is like a great mountain and his body is like a river flowing down." Robert Barron

For context on Bishop Barron's analysiss, in his book, Renewing Our Hope writes: 

”Following Dietrich von Hildebrand, we should say that the truly beautiful is an objective value, to be sharply distinguished from what is merely subjectively satisfying.This means that the beautiful does not merely entertain; rather it invades, chooses and changes the one to whom it deigns to appear. It is not absorbed into subjectivity; it re-arranges and re-directs subjectivity, sending it on a trajectory toward the open sea of the Beautiful itself.”

Whether is Michelangelo's art, art Music or any other genuine art form,
draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.

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