It has occurred to me that Michelangelo might be my favorite artist. I’ll be in Rome with students in April, so I’m reading Ross King’s Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling. I’m loving all the minutiae about the creation of the Sistine Chapel, from detailed information about pigments (did you know ‘ultramarine’ is so called because it describes the place far from the sea (as the name suggests) — Afghanistan! — where the lapis is quarried that’s used to make it), to the political intrigues surrounding Pope Julius II (The Warrior Pope!) and the office politics of the renaissance art world.
Halfway through the book, I realize that I’m enjoying it as much as I am because I love the Sistine Chapel. I’ve seen it twice in my life and both times I stood there in the crowd, looking up at its immensity and grandeur, and I swooned like the heroine of a Victorian novel; it quite literally took my breath away. So did the statue of David (and the gallery of figures emerging from the marble leading up to it). Van Gogh and Chagall rank highly in my esteem as well, but Michelangelo…no lie: I swooned.
And I can’t wait to do it again.
So have you swooned before a work of art? Even if you haven’t, what would you say is your favorite work and why?