(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)

Separation of Light from Darkness

Fresco, 180 x 260 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

Quite extraordinary and truly Titanic is the last fresco, smaller in size but sublime in conception: 'Let There be Light!', with God the Father self-begetting and therefore, in a sense, self diminishing. If he divides the light from the darkness it is the creation and manifestation of himself as light. This is a strangely abstract design, characterized by primitive and intentionally artless drawing. The anthropomorphous whirlwind in cosmíc travail is an awe-inspiring sight. The fresco is Michelangelo's first act of renunciation of his art as a flight into the divine, but he will return in many a lustrum to his tumult of moving bodies which are not of this world, but gigantic images of an inconceivable beauty projected by the mind. The artists of the Renaissance and their patrons were often pagans at heart, but not so Michelangelo. He was the truly medieval man, in whom religious zeal and the love of beauty were at war.