It’s never to early to introduce your kids to a little art history, right? Over the weekend we took the twin tornados to see some classic European art at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Exhibition in Orange County.
“A true work of art is but a shadow of divine perfection” ~ Michelangelo.
It’s been 16 years since Hubby and I were physically at the Vatican to see the real thing. For those of you who have been, you’ll understand how quickly your neck gets sore from staring at the beauty of the high ceiling. The height doesn’t allow you to take in the detail of Michelangelo’s individual work, but you can appreciate the scale of the whole thing.
So, it was exciting for us to view this exhibit with each fresco reproduced at life size. I’m in no way saying it surpasses the real deal, but it’s certainly an amazing way to appreciate one of the greatest artistic achievements in the world at a more convenient perspective (and much cheaper than a flight to Rome).
For those of you who aren’t into art, the Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican City, which is where the Pope hangs out when in Rome. Michelangelo was more famous as a sculptor than a painter, but Pope Julius II bribed him with the promise that he could sculpt the Pope’s tomb if he’d first paint the ceiling of the Chapel. Michelangelo really wanted to create the tomb, so he took on the painting gig.
Reaching the ceiling was no mean feat with incredible scaffolding for the time being erected. basically the poor guy had a crick in his neck for 4.5 years (1508-1512) while he painted on the plaster!
The frescoes include nine scenes from the Book of Genesis – how the world was created, the creation and downfall of Adam and Eve, and the stories of Noah. The most famous of these art works being The Creation of Adam. The other frescoes depict Prophets and other significant religious figures.
Along with each fresco, there is also an explanation board (in both English and Spanish) which tells the story of the art work and identifies where on the ceiling this fresco was located.
We weren’t sure how the kids would fare at such an exhibition. But being that 6 years and under were free of charge, it made the gamble worthwhile. And, they surprised us. Both sat enthralled at the entertaining, kid friendly 20 minute video that explained how Michelangelo was employed to paint the Sistine Chapel and the process he took to accomplish such an artistic feat.
The video was their favourite part of the exhibition. Miss H learnt that Michelangelo wanted to be a sculptor, not an artist, but “he’s a pretty good painter”. Indeed! Even at 6 years of age, the Twin Tornados have been lucky enough to study a few amazing artists in their ‘Art Masters’ program through school, even attempting their own versions of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers this year.
Yes, we had to have a few quiet discussions about why you could see ‘their privates’ on display in many of the art works – art styles, bodies, the time in history, what stories the paintings are trying to tell, etc.
Not being a very religious family, the twin tornados were still familiar with a few of the stories Michelangelo was interpreting in his art (Noah, Adam and Eve, etc), which helped them understand what the display was about.
Twenty years after completing the ceiling, Michelangelo was commissioned again to create the giant fresco of ‘The Last Judgement‘. This is a particularly impressive piece, with such a myriad of emotions and characters. You could spend hours just sitting and taking it all in.
The exhibition is on at the Christ Cathedral Campus in Garden Grove (which is an impressive building in itself) until the end of the year, so be sure to check it out.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition
Cathedral Cultural Center, Christ Cathedral Campus
13280 Chapman Avenue, Garden Grove, CA 92840
I loved The Last Judgement (I studied the bottom right section for an English project back in High School) and you can’t help but be impressed by the detail in The Creation of Adam. Kind of makes me wish I’d done Art History at school.
Which is your favourite Sistine Chapel Fresco?
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