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Two large continental land masses – the narrow isthmus connecting them – are crossed by the Panama Canal: this is how one would see it geographically. And it is this channel, the central decisive minimum gap between the finger of Adam and the finger of God, that so often directs our attention. The width of the finger separates the two fingertips, 3/4 inch of the image area. The not quite bringing together of the hands in Michelangelo’s Adam is the most famous detail in Western art.
Painting Of Man And God Touching Fingers
But when we look at these fingers now, we are very much inclined to see something more, something that is not really there. The most famous detail of art is indelibly marked by one of the most influential proposals of art criticism. As Kenneth Clark put it, Adam “stretched out his hand so that it almost touched the hand of God, and an electric charge seemed to pass between their fingers.”
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Oh yes, electricity! Watch the break, then feel the power. It is possible that Clark, in his 1969 book and television series Civilization, made this idea generally accepted. Michelangelo’s invisible spark is now proverbial. This was expanded into a very prominent big bang in the title of the South Bank show. This inspired the warm glow of alien-human contact in the poster for the movie “Alien – Alien”.
However, Clark did not come up with this infectious metaphor. He had a history. In 1927, the English artist and writer Wyndham Lewis came up with it: “There is an electrical force between Adam’s outstretched forefinger and the hurrying figure of Jehovah. And in 1870, the French critic Emile Montegut also got to her – trying his best to explain her blatant anachronism. “You could even say that in this fresco Michelangelo intuitively discovered electricity long before Galvani and Volta,” he suggested.
In fact, the great cliche dates back to the very beginning of the 19th century. It was opened in 1801 by the Swiss-British artist Henry Fuseli. He observed how “the Creator, led by a host of spirits accompanying him, goes to his last, best deed … an immortal spark emanating from his outstretched hand electrifies a newborn creature, which, tremblingly alive, half-rising, reclining, hurries to meet its creator “.
There was a lot of electricity in the air back then. In the late 18th century, it became an important area of study and a modern form of entertainment. Luigi Galvani tugged—galvanized—frog legs with an electric current. Alessandro Volta invented the battery. Glasses of cognac caught fire from a spark from the man’s finger. The King of France was amused by the sight of several monks who were shocked and simultaneously jumped into the air. There was speculation that the dead could come back to life.
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Mary Shelley had electricity in mind when she wrote Frankenstein. Although the power is not mentioned by name in her book, she later explained that it made the story possible: “Maybe the corpse could come to life. Galvanism signaled such things.” And what Fuseli sees in The Creation of Adam is a kind of Frankenstein scenario.
After Fuseli, almost all of Michelangelo’s critics took his disturbing allusion and expressed it in their own words, although many of them must have known better than he did that the Frankensteinian science behind it was dubious. Electroshock has not yet created life. Doesn’t matter. The idea of electricity almost irresistibly fits into the picture.
There is a gap between the fingers, a gap through which a spark could jump. Or similarly, if you imagine converging fingers, they simply form a narrow line of connection, a tangent point of contact, through which the life-giving power of God is transmitted – therefore, this power must be like electricity, where a huge charge can be carried on the thinnest cable, on the slightest touch.
Electrical theory can even overcome the problem of anachronism. Michelangelo did not know about electricity, but he had an idea of the Divine spark that fills the human body with the soul. This is the theological equivalent of electricity in the Frankenstein script (and Fuseli happily mixes the two ideas in one sentence). The divine spark is what God deceives Adam with. It is the source of energy that drives human life.
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There is no doubt about it, the electrifying creation of Adam is one of the most popular memes ever. The only doubt is this. Why should history—as often happens with Michelangelo—be a story about power?
Look at the picture again and pretend you don’t know what it is. What do you see? You don’t see sparks or flashes. You certainly don’t see the body electrify, twitch, or come to life. You see two figures of the same size, both powerful, one more passive, one more active, coming together.
Now electrical theory is useful in one respect. He emphasizes that these two large bodies are connected in a very tender and delicate relationship. It reveals all the drama of the image of massive forms in fragile contact. But then everything goes wrong. She dismisses any sense of fragility, arguing that a strong force flows through these relationships and that it only flows in one direction.
The theory dazzles you with the obvious fact of these slightly spread arms. They reach for each other across the void, and when they reach, each hand reaches gently and carefully, yearning and holding back, at the point of contact. This is not a massive energy transfusion. A pair of great and separate beings meet in a vague and dubious encounter. This is not a one-way act of animation, but a two-way act of familiarity.
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This is the stunning and rather heartbreaking aspect of this painting. Michelangelo imagines God’s creation of man as the beginning of a relationship full of hope.
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) needs no introduction. “He is unique in Italy, and perhaps in the universe,” said a contemporary, and from the age of 30 to the present day, he causes unprecedented and uninterrupted amazement. He gives an image of the general artistic power – in the figurative scope of his ideas, in the enormous effort of their creation, in the intense muscular strength of the body he depicts.
He himself is in danger of becoming a cartoon superhero among artists. Therefore, it is always pleasant to notice moments of tenderness, fragility, even comedy in his work. A lot of them.
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Does Michelangelo’s painting at the end of the Western world really show the brain – or is it the womb?
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Closes the season with a bloody robot uprising. Dolores, one of the amusement park’s android hostesses, kills the park’s remaining founder, Robert Ford. But before she puts a gun to his head, Ford subjects Dolores to an inappropriate art history lesson. He explains that Michelangelo’s painting,
, contains a hidden symbol: the shape of the brain, outlined by the mantle of God. Ford’s message seems to be that consciousness is the true gift that a creator can bestow on his creation.
Writers did not come up with this metaphor out of nowhere. In fact, gynecologist Frank Lynn Meshberger put forward this theory over two decades ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And there is some controversy: a rival group of researchers believe the shape is actually a womb.
It is useful to know a little about the biography of the painter: Michelangelo Buonarroti was a Renaissance artist who painted
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As part of a series of biblical frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. One of the hallmarks of the Renaissance was that the artists working during this period strove for more realistic depictions of the human body, so many of these artists were also anatomists. Michelangelo was no exception; he began to dissect corpses as a teenager in order to understand how people work, says his biographer and contemporary Giorgio Vasari.
– one of the many biblical scenes depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. God’s hand in him
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