Michelangelo - Creativity and Art
Italian painter, sculptor, architect and poet
Rival of Leonardo da Vinci.
His most famous works of art are...
- his nude statue of
from 1501 to 1504 and 17 feet, or 5.17 m, high).
- his painting in Rome’s Sistine
Chapel with nine scenes from the Bible’s book of Genesis on
the ceiling (painted 1508-12), and the Last Judgement (1535-41) on the altar wall.
Why was he so creative?
- a man of great passion and emotion.
- inspired by the pursuit of excellence and beauty.
He particularly emphasized male beauty (as illustrated by David, pictured
right, showing the biblical king David just before his battle with Goliath).
Art was always much more important to him than money.
- was driven by his religious belief and passion for art.
- thought that great art came from the mind and the soul.
- believed that the image of his sculptural subjects (like the statue of David) was already in the block of
stone and just waiting for him to uncover it.
His motto was
“They raise our intellect to heaven” (referring to painting, sculpture and
He learned from his:
a) great rival Leonardo da
Vinci (pictured right)
(particularly his ability to draw figures in triangles, a technique Michelangelo used in his
painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling).
b) continual quest for perfection and
(helped by his incredible memory for works of art).
“I am still learning”, he always said.
4. Determination and hard work
On the road to success, he showed
He constantly battled against depression and criticism.
His naked figures on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, were heavily criticized as obscene by
some people in the Catholic Church.
After his death the naughty bits were covered up!
His great works took several years of exhausting work with long hours and little sleep.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling was particularly arduous, giving him neck and back trouble for the rest of his
He stood on scaffolding to paint it, not laying down as is sometimes believed.
Pictured right is the face of God on the ceiling.
He had no friends and totally dedicated himself to the ceiling’s completion, suffering eye
and throat damage from drippings of wet plaster onto his face.
“I toil harder than any man, whoever was, unwell and with enormous effort; and yet I have the patience
to reach the desired end”, he said in 1512.
Michelangelo (pictured right aged 60) broke with convention and painted directly
onto the Sistine Chapel ceiling with sweeping brush strokes rather than copying from a full-sized
This is tricky because the plaster had to be damp so that the paint did not sink into it.
Creativity for him meant:
a) challenging conventional wisdom and people in authority (even the Pope)
“Criticize by creating”, he said.
He attacked copiers of other people’s work, saying
“He who walks in the footsteps of another is not likely to walk before him”.
6. Talent and self-motivation
He was a great artist because of his
a) incredible skill and speed.
He drew Adam’s penis in the Sistine Chapel with a single brush stroke!
The creation of Adam on the ceiling is pictured right.
b) sense of humour
One of the angels in the Sistine Chapel is making a rude gesture!
c) will to win
He was obsessed with pushing himself to be great.
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in
setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”. he said.
7. Positive thinking
However difficult his work, he was optimistic about finishing it successfully.
Seven Popes commissioned his work, but his greatest patron was Julius II (Pope from 1503
Key quote on
The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our
aim too low and achieving our mark.
Key quotes on
If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all
Faith in oneself is the best and safest course.
Genius is eternal patience.
Key quote on
Criticize by creating
Key quote on time
There is no greater harm than that of time wasted.