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Posts Tagged ‘Michelangelo’

Photo: ArtTrav.
The Medici Chapel in Florence recently got a new kind of cleaning. This is the “before” shot of Michelangelo’s sculptures of Dusk and Dawn. See the New York Times for how they look today.

How do you clean a masterpiece? Carefully, My Friends. Especially if much of the damage was caused by the decomposing body of a long-dead Medici.

Jason Horowitz reports at the New York Times that you may also want to keep any strange method of cleaning a secret until after it actually succeeds.

“As early as 1595, descriptions of stains and discoloration began to appear in accounts of a sarcophagus in the graceful chapel Michelangelo created as the final resting place of the Medicis. In the ensuing centuries, plasters used to incessantly copy the masterpieces he sculpted atop the tombs left discoloring residues. His ornate white walls dimmed.

“Nearly a decade of restorations removed most of the blemishes, but the grime on the tomb and other stubborn stains required special, and clandestine, attention. … Restorers and scientists quietly unleashed microbes with good taste and an enormous appetite on the marbles, intentionally turning the chapel into a bacterial smorgasbord.

“ ‘It was top secret,’ said Daniela Manna, one of the art restorers. …

“ [A team headed by] Monica Bietti, former director of the Medici Chapel’s Museum … used bacteria that fed on glue, oil and apparently [a dead Medici’s] phosphates as a bioweapon against centuries of stains.

“In November 2019, the museum brought in Italy’s National Research Council, which used infrared spectroscopy that revealed calcite, silicate and other, more organic, remnants on the sculptures and two tombs that face one another across the New Sacristy.

“That provided a key blueprint for Anna Rosa Sprocati, a biologist at the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, to choose the most appropriate bacteria from a collection of nearly 1,000 strains, usually used to break down petroleum in oil spills or to reduce the toxicity of heavy metals. …

“Then the restoration team tested the most promising eight strains behind the altar, on a small rectangle palette spotted with rows of squares like a tiny marble bingo board. All of the ones selected, she said, were nonhazardous and without spores.

“ ‘It’s better for our health,’ said Manna, after crawling out from under the sarcophagus. ‘For the environment, and the works of art.’ …

“In February 2020 Covid hit, closing the museum in March and interrupting the project. … The bacteria strains got back to the Medici Chapel, which had reopened with reduced hours, in mid-October. Wearing white lab coats, blue gloves and anti-Covid surgical masks, Sprocati and the restorers spread gels with the SH7 bacteria — from soil contaminated by heavy metals at a mineral site in Sardinia — on the sullied sarcophagus of Lorenzo di Piero, Duke of Urbino, buried with his assassinated son Alessandro.

“ ‘It ate the whole night,’ said Marina Vincenti, another of the restorers. …

“In 2016, [she had] attended a conference held by Sprocati and her biologists. (‘An introduction to the world of microorganisms,’ Sprocati called it.) They showed how bacteria had cleaned up some resin residues on Baroque masterpiece frescoes in the Carracci Gallery at Palazzo Farnese in Rome. Strains isolated from mine drainage waters in Sardinia eliminated corrosive iron stains in the gallery’s Carrara marble.

“When it came time to clean the Michelangelos, Vincenti pushed for a bacterial assist.

“ ‘I said, “OK,” said [Paola D’Agostino, who runs the Bargello Museums]. ‘ “But let’s do a test first.” ‘

“The bacteria passed the exam and did the job.”

More at the Times, here.

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MEXICO-VATICAN-SISTINE CHAPEL-REPRODUCTIONS

Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images
Miguel Francisco Macias was inspired to replicate Michelangelo’s frescoes not just because it is a stunning work of art, but because he realized the Sistine Chapel ceiling has almost the same dimensions as his church in Mexico. It took 18 years.

Don’t you admire people with big ambitions who see an implausible project through to its conclusion? This designer sought to replicate the Sistine Chapel frescoes on the ceiling of his church in Mexico. He thought it might take six years.

Sarah Stocking writes at Lonely Planet, “For the last 18 years, a retired graphic designer has been quietly painting a replica of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel at his local church in Mexico City. Miguel Francisco Macias began his opus in an attempt to offer people who cannot travel a glimpse at one of the most shining examples of European art, Macias told Aljazeera.

“The project, which is now displayed on the ceiling at Perpetuo Socorro Church in Colonia Moctezuma, was largely self-funded with small donations from parishioners. Macias worked on the weekends with two assistants. The work was divided into 14 canvases each of which is 45-feet wide. Macias knew from the beginning that he would not be able to paint facing up, the way Michelangelo did, so he painted the canvases first and then affixed them to the ceiling afterwards.

“Macias said he was inspired to replicate Michelangelo’s frescoes not just because it is a stunning work of art, but because he realised the Sistine Chapel ceiling has almost the same dimensions as his local church, reported Splinter.

“The realisation came to Macias on a trip to Rome with a friend in 1999. The artist spent hours in the chapel admiring the frescos. ‘I stayed until the guard made me leave,’ Macias remembers. He also measured the length and width of the Sistine Chapel with footsteps. He wrote the dimensions on a small sheet of paper and presented his idea to the pastor on his return. …

“Macias didn’t think the project would take him nearly as long as it did. ‘I said it would be a maximum of six years,’ he told Newsbeezer. While the project suffered many setbacks, including falls, floods and robberies, none was so potentially insulting as when the Mexico City government used taxpayer money to temporarily recreate the Sistine Chapel in the Zocolo in 2016 ahead of a visit from the Pope.

“Although the community rallied behind Macias and wrote letters requesting that the Pope visit Macias’ work in progress in addition to the government’s pop-up, they didn’t get the holy visit they were hoping for. Macias didn’t let it bother him and kept a sign in his make-shift studio that read, ‘do not give up Miguelito.’ ”

More at Lonely Planet, here.

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It’s not fair to make fun of Russians in general when only a few have a problem with Michelangelo’s “David,” but this is a funny story.

Claire Voon wrote at Hyperallergic in July that the city of St. Petersburg would vote in August on whether to cover the statue’s nakedness.

Here’s what she said, “St. Petersburg residents will vote on how to dress a replica statue of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ that came to the city in May, following a complaint from a woman who said his nudity ‘spoils the city’s historic appearance and warps children’s souls.’

“Erected as part of the ongoing Michelangelo. World Creation exhibition at St. Anne’s Lutheran Church in central St. Petersburg, the 16-foot-tall plastic copy compelled the outraged local to pen a letter last week to the Children’s Right’s Ombudsman, as Lenta first reported. …

“While the online post notes that officials have tried to convince Inna that many other naked statues have stood around town for years, she said she still intends to write to all relevant authorities to achieve an ‘early elimination of the giant.’ …

“The organizers of the show have been quite accommodating, though … This week, they launched the monthlong ‘Dress David’ initiative, which invites people to play stylist to the famous nude Renaissance work and submit ideas for outfits, complete with explanations for why David should appear in the proposed garb. An online voting session for selected concepts will open on August 16, with a winner announced a week later. Voters will also have the option to leave the statue as Michelangelo’s original has stood for centuries. …

“In the meantime, organizers have crudely taped a black circular object over the statue’s offending member to protect the untainted souls of passing schoolchildren.” More.

After a bit of Googling, I finally discovered how the voting went, here.

Photo: @misha.ivanov/Instagram
Some Russians actually think this sloppy covering of a David replica is a good idea.

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