Nowadays, it does not take a whole lot for just about anyone to claim itself being an “artist”, simply because the very definition of the term “art” became the subject of numerous interpretations. Nevertheless, it is namely the art pieces associated with Greek-Roman antiquity and with the time of High Renaissance, which represent a fully objective value, due to these pieces’ supreme technical perfection and the aura of humanism they emanate. In this paper, I will analyze the aesthetic and philosophical significance of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture David, as the ultimate mean of substantiating earlier thesis. The reason I have chosen this particular work of art to write about, is because I believe that truly valuable art should not only please spectators aesthetically, but also stimulate their brain cells – that is, after having been exposed to particularly valuable artistic masterpiece, people should become instilled with philosophical ideas, for which such masterpiece stand.
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In 1501, Michelangelo was being chosen by Florence’s governmental officials to produce a sculptural composition, based on Biblical fable about confrontation between David and Goliath, as such that was meant to symbolize Florence’s unilateral stance against its numerous enemies. It has taken three years for Michelangelo to complete this work. However, the sculpture of David, revealed to the public in 1504, can be referred to as anything but as such that promotes “Christian values”. Apparently, while working on it, Michelangelo drew inspiration out antique ideals of physical beauty, rather than out of Christian ideals of “moral virtuousness”, represented by medieval depictions of Christian “saints” as hunchbacks, retards and impotence.
Therefore, it will not be an exaggeration, on our part, to suggest that Michelangelo’s David represents a revolutionary breakthrough in the history of European art of sculpture, because it marked the initial stages of this art freeing itself out of Christianity’s intellectual imprisonment.
Whereas earlier artistic representations of David used to depict him as having already accomplished victory over Goliath, Michelangelo’s David is only getting ready to a fight. David’s facial features leave no doubt as to the fact that, prior to beginning to work on this sculpture; Michelangelo had closely studied ancient depictions of God Apollo – brachycephalic skull, particularly high forehead, blond curly hair, narrow nose, protruding chin.
The proportions of David’s naked body are close to ideal. This impression is being strengthened even further by the fact that David appears to be no stranger to physical and sporting activities. Thus, it is not only that David’s posture alone provides us with the insight on the strength of his resolution to fight Goliath – while observing David; we get to realize where such his resolution originates from. Just as ancient Roman and Greek philosophers, Michelangelo was well aware that healthy spirit can only reside in one’s healthy body. Therefore, the philosophical message, conveyed by this Michelangelo sculpture’s posture, can be formulated as follows: the notions of physical health, bodily beauty, and intellectual refinement derive from each other.
It was not by an accident that Michelangelo had chosen marble as sculpting material for this particular piece of art – marble’s whiteness intensifies the aura of physical and spiritual purity about David. In its turn, this was meant to provide viewers with semi-scientific understanding as to why David was able to defeat Goliath, in the first place – his victory came about as the result of David being qualitatively better than Goliath. He defeated Goliath not because of the sheer strength of his religious beliefs, but simply because he was a “better man”. Thus, there can be no doubt as to deeply humanistic overtones about David’s both: posture and anthropological appearance. In its turn, this brings us to conclusion that the relation of Michelangelo’s David to Biblical motifs can be best described as merely formal – sculptor did not even bother to depict David being circumcised, as it should have been the case, given David’s affiliation with “chosen people”.
Today, it became a statement of good taste, on the part of “progressive” art critics, to doubt the objective value of artistic masterpieces, which they associate with metaphysical concept of euro-centrism, simply because this concept does not quite correspond to the concept of “multiculturalism”. Some of these critics go as far as suggesting that the artistic value of primitive African figurines, carved out of wood, equals that of European Renaissance sculptures. I do not subscribe to this point of view. It is only the art that is meant to bring out best in people, by appealing to idealistic subtleties of their character, which deserves to be admired. This explains why the actual value of Michelangelo’s David cannot even be measured adequately – this sculpture’s true significance derives out of the fact that, ever since being created, it continues to inspire generations after generations of Western intellectuals and artists. Despite what people are now being taught to believe – there can only be two types of art: humanistic and degenerative. Michelangelo’s David clearly belongs to humanistic type of art, which is why it will never cease to be admired by people capable of distinguishing between actual art and pseudo-art.
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