All About Michelangelo: Part 1 (Battle of the Centaurs and Pope Tag)
Our debatable profile of one of the world's greatest chiselers.

Dan Van Oss Biographies, Complete Columns, History 0 Comments

Michelangelo (full name: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni; nickname: Mickey the Brush), was, much like Mozart in the realm of music, born a long time ago. He was considered one of the greatest artists of anyone’s lifetime, but since he lived primarily in his, it worked out well that he was particularly famous in just it. One of the greatest artists in the western world, his work as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer and ninja turtle is unsurpassed in its influence, and becomes even more amazing when you realize he didn’t even have Photoshop. Living in what we now call the High Renaissance, and what he called at the time “Just us bunch of people living in Italy”, he has become a model of the typical “Renaissance Man”, along with his rival Italian Leonardo Da Vinci, with whom he would often fight over girls with and challenge to drag races down by the river.

Enjoy your stay at this exceptional… wait a minute

Born in 1475, Michelangelo lived in what is present-day Tuscany, Italy, for 88 years, which we know because scientists cut him open and counted his rings, upon which he died in 1564.
Michelangelo is quintessentially ‘New York’: a 4-star grand master of a hotel on the corner of 51st and 7th Avenue. A tapestry of influences, it is wrapped up in authentic Italian elegance, chic style and – wait… sorry; I googled the wrong thing; that’s the Michelangelo hotel in New York. Let’s see… back arrow, there we are. Born in 1475, Michelangelo lived in what is present-day Tuscany, Italy, for 88 years, which we know because scientists cut him open and counted his rings, upon which he died in 1564. As a young boy, he was sent to school to study grammar, but spent most of his time doodling sketches of rocket ships and impossibly cool race cars in his Trapper Keeper. Living in Florence, which was the hub of art and learning at the time, he was able to obtain an apprenticeship with a local painter named Ghirlandaio. Quickly realizing that Ghirlandaio was a house painter and just needed a crew to paint apartment complexes, Michelangelo was fortunate in being chosen by Florence’s ruler Lorenzo de Medici to attend the Humanist Academy (Motto:”It’s An Academy Just For Humans!”) where he studied under a bunch of Italians whose names all end in either “o” or “a”. It was here, at the age of 15, when most of the other boys were playing “Pope Tag” and “I Hope I Don’t Die In Poverty From Smallpox”, that he completed his first sculptures, the Madonna of the Steps and Battle of the Centaurs (which was later made into a movie starring John Travolta).

Snowmen and spoiled capicola

With the death of Lorenzo de Medici in 1497 Michelangelo had to leave the security of the court. After a few unsuccessful years attempting to make a living as a street sculptor, he received a request from the Medici court to make a “snow sculpture” after a rare Florencian snowfall. Unfortunately, this sculpture has been lost to the ages because it melted, but we can only imagine it’s corncob pipe, button nose, and two eyes made out of coal. This return was short lived, as the following year saw the rise of Savonarola, a widespread gastro-intestinal disease caused by spoiled capicola, and, coioncidentally, also a guy who didn’t like secular art and culture. Michelangelo left Florence for Venice, and then Bologna [insert Oscar Meyer joke here], where he was able to obtain a commission to carve some figures of the Shrine of Saint Dominic, patron saint of Italian First Names. By the end of 1494 things had calmed down in Florence, and he returned to begin work on a commission for the Medici family called St. John the Baptist (with head) which came with the unusual request to make it look like “an ancient work” that was just unearthed so it would fetch more money. The jig was up, however, as jigs had not yet been invented, and the buyer, St. Louis Cardinal Raffaele Riario, discovered it was a fraud. However, instead of throwing Leonardo into artist jail, where he would be sentenced to painting highway stripes, the Cardinal was so impressed with his work that he invited Michelangelo to come work for him in Rome.

Where will our wild sculptor’s adventures take us next? Will he be able to stay away from the bad capicola? Can you do a Hail Mary in Pope Tag? Check in next time as we continue our somewhat skeptical profile of Michelangelo.

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