Five hundred years ago Michelangelo put the first brushstroke to his most ambitious creation. As he started work on his vast fresco cycle for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he began putting into pictures the awe-inspiring legends recounted in the Book of Genesis. But for the viewer looking up into Michelangelo's painted sky, this was to be just the first of a series of unprecedentedly original images, rightly celebrated as the quintessential masterpiece of the Renaissance. Yet the painting of the Sistine Chapel, for all its magnificence, came at a considerable human cost. It would take Michelangelo four years of long and bitter toil to complete his masterpiece, goaded all the while by his volatile, impatient patron, Pope Julius II. In his new study of Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel, Andrew Graham-Dixon retells the story of the Sistine Chapel for modern times, and an essential companion guide for one of the artistic wonders of the world.
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Andrew Graham-Dixon is a leading art critic and arts presenter. He has written columns for the Independent and the Sunday Telegraph, and a number of acclaimed books. He has won numerous awards including three consecutive Arts Journalist of the Year Awards and the Hawthornden Prize for Art Criticism. He is married with three children and lives in London.From School Library Journal:
Graham-Dixon, former art critic for the Independent, brings to the fore the greatest achievement of the genius who perhaps best deserves the designation Renaissance man. After a short biography of Michelangelo up to his reluctant acceptance of the pope's commission, Graham-Dixon analyzes the masterpiece itself. He excels at contextualization, appropriately calling the chapel "a simple rectangular building" and making plain how the artist strongly insisted he was a sculptor, not a painter of frescoes. The figures created in this hallowed space are nearly as sculptural as anything truly in the round, a fact the author emphasizes. Graham-Dixon is adept at analyzing the pictorial scheme in its entirety and interpreting the dozens of individual sections of the ceiling's barrel vault. He has managed to resurrect, in an attenuated scholarly nugget, the popular appeal of this great and beloved landmark of the Western world. A focused and instructive read, this refreshing look at a familiar topic should attract a wide readership.—Douglas F. Smith, Berkeley P.L., CA
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