Friday, June 22, 2007

David's Toe - Art on Friday

Today's art story ties in with the Italian theme from mid week. In 2004, I was privileged to study for a short while in Florence. Its a city overflowing with historic works of art. Here is my reaction, from that time, to Michelangelo's David:

There are many works can be written about but David is chosen because of the emotions that surfaced as I encountered it. In a word, the sculpture is spectacular though even that word falls flat in comparison to experiencing the sight, smell, and sound of standing in front of it. Breathe deep as you take in a hint of the flavor that the sculptor tasted while carving, chipping, and polishing the marble. Watch the crowd stroll, stop, point, and gasp in this room and you will not soon forget it. Their expressions range from pure joy to utter disbelief. I had listened to people talk about what a magnificent statement of humanity Michelangelo was able to create from a piece of stone.

It is slightly embarrassing to admit my response on hearing these statements was that there was no way any work of art could be that impressive. Little did I know that looking into David’s eyes would allow me to feel a glimpse into the soul of a great artist and a great era of history. I did not realize that I could stand – nearly close enough to touch – a symbol of the awakening of the human spirit. David stands strong and proud, solidly grounded and confident that even a giant cannot deter him from succeeding in this world.

The right hand – is this David’s human hand or God? – is large and relaxed as the stone he is about to load rests in his fingers. His gaze is somewhere between nonchalance and anticipation at being given this opportunity to slay Goliath. He positions himself and appears relaxed yet ready to move at any moment. My eyes focus on his foot of all things and it is then that I notice how Michelangelo has given us a sensual, smooth, and fleshy sculpture made from marble. The toe pad of David’s right foot is planted, yet slightly overhung, on the rock that is his connection to the earth and the flesh is pressed upward. The contrast between softness of skin and hardness of stone is breath taking. I continue to obsess on this small detail of a massive three-dimensional work of art that breaks away from any prior representation of the human form in Florentine sculpture. It is said that Michelangelo studied the ancient Greek sculptors, particularly the Belvedere Torso in Rome, to learn the precise muscle structure and tone that he gives David. The artist drew his inspiration from the ancient sculptors’ depiction of the physical body and churned it with the passion he felt as a human being to create a bold statement to the world then and the world now.
To this day, I am blown away -

*Special inspirational thanks to Dr Robyn McMaster for her post on perspectives. To Toby Bloomberg - Diva Marketing - and Lewis Green - Biz Solutions Plus - for their posts on "things not marketing".

Have a good weekend!!


Lewis Green said...

Thanks for the shout out Bob. I think we all need to add art to our lives at least once a week. I love David. Thank you for sharing.

BobG said...

your welcome and backatcha, Lewis - I want to see David again someday!

jackie cameron said...

Bob - your art posts stir my brain ( and my memories)

A few years ago my husband and I spent an anniversary in Florence. So romantic. Of course - amongst the visits we had to make was to see David. You will of course know how many visual treats there are in Florence - inside the galleries and outside too - but when I first saw him it took my breath away. I had been scared that - as had been my experience with the Mona Lisa - the real thing would be disappointing....

Bob Glaza said...

You're right Jackie - Florence is just plain "sick" with art :) Around every corner. We walked around in a daze. Sounds like your Mona Lisa viewing was similar to me seeing the Pieta in St Peter's.

But David....mmmmm...everyone owes it to themselves to experience that!

CK said...

I believe it was before he created David that Michaelangelo stared at the block of marble (that would become David) for a very long time and when others asked what he was doing he said "I'm working."

That might be a fable. But I choose to believe it.

Robyn McMaster said...

Bob, I know not many people would really look at David's toe as you did. It's amazing what we see when our perspective is different from most other folks'. Thanks for great inspiration, Bob.

Bob Glaza said...

CK - Fable or not, it makes perfect sense...when you walk into the room where David stands, there are 4 massive chunks of marble. Each of them has tiny little chisel marks that eventually become a smooth surface. Its a magnificent display of the painstaking work he undertook. So , yeah, staring HAS to be part of it :)

Robyn - I fixated on that darn toe and thought of my own. How did Michelangelo create the soft, tender pad of a foot out of stone? And then make it appear that the entire sculpture balanced right there !?!? That work is the inspiration!

Brad Shorr said...

Hi Bob, I just discovered your blog and it's fantastic. Years ago I remember standing in front of the David for two hours, mesmerized. Your post did a great job of putting the almost inexpressible into words.

Bob Glaza said...

Wow! Thanks Brad...and welcome - you have a mighty fine spot, too :)

Mesmerized is a wonderful word for looking at David. You just reminded me of another aspect that kept me glued to it - the smell of the stone. It was an experience unlike anything before or since. Completely unforgettable.

Thanks for taking a moment and sharing your comment.