In 1504 Michelangelo Buonarroti began to hew the statue of David from a nine-tonne lump of white marble. It was to take him over two years to complete but the finished work so impressed Pope Julius II in Rome that he asked Michelangelo to design him a mausoleum. Michelangelo made ambitious plans for a massive edifice with numerous sculptures, but by the time he was ready to start work, the Pope had changed his mind. He now wanted a fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Bitterly disappointed, and concerned by his lack of experience as a painter, Michelangelo nonetheless took on the backbreaking task, driven by perfectionism and an obsessive personality. The creation of Adam and Eve, their expulsion from paradise, the flood, the burning of Savonarola - Michelangelo’s work is full of apocalyptic fantasies and impressive motifs. As a young artist, Michelangelo was fascinated by stories of tragedy and intrigued by guilt and atonement, crime and punishment.
Then again, his own life was no less tragic, fascinating, complex and intriguing. Michelangelo the man: driven by his visions, anxieties, rages, ambition, self-doubt and his obsessive dedication to his work - a life of art without compromise. Yet while his work met with acclaim, success brought him no contentment. Rich and revered, yet personally and sexually unfulfilled, Michelangelo described himself as “crazy and cruel”.
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