Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Wednesday July 21

This morning I went with Colleen to see the museum of the cloister of St. Mark's.  I had no idea this was such a major site for art. 

Fra Angelico was a genius.  About a generation younger than Lorenzo Monaco, he would have seen Masaccio's chapel in the church of the Carmines when he was about my age.  His work has total artistic integrity.  That is, humanity and freedom of expression rather than predictability and formula.  The gothic still remains in his outlined, brightly colored shapes and humble figures, which I love.  The gothic had so much humanity in these narrative figures. 

Of hanging paintings by Beato Angelico, the following impressed me the most: the Pala di Bosco ai Frati, 1450, and the Pala d'Annalena, 1434 - 1435.

The crucifixion...
New Sacristy of San Lorenzo:

My mind is full of thoughts.

I have just seen the Medici Chapel accompanied by a guide who gave us a lot of excellent information.  He was a substitute for Dr. Kevin Murphy, and didn't give his name, but if he had not been there, I'm not sure I would have had the revelation about the space that I am now having. 

Michelangelo designed the entire chapel and did all of the sculpture except for the two figures flanking the Madonna and Child.  The concept of the space is totally integrated.  To summarize, the chapel represents the divided world of time and form--our world-- on the ground level and formless eternity on the upper levels, with Christ's resurrection planned but not executed as the symbol of transcendence from one world to the next... 

our world is divided in form and time and thus frought with duality, dichotomy, complements, and conflict.  Time and form are the kingdom of death--all forms, in time, die.  This is expressed by the statues and architectural elements on the first level of the chapel.  As the chapel rises, time and death are transcended in Christ's resurrection, which was planned but not executed.   At the top is the dome and circle, which represent the transcendence of form, the symbols of eternity. 

Time is divided into complementary natures--night and day, dawn and dusk--just as personalities are of the sun quality or of the moon quality--the outer-dwelling person and the inner-dwelling person.   
All of nature is divided, and its dualism is the source of endless conflict.  Everything in the chapel speaks of time.  Time, as we experience it, is fundamental duality, limitation.  Linear time is the house of conflict, and leads every thing to its death.   "Il tempo consomma tutto--" in M.'s journal.   The effigies of Lorenzo and Giuliano bear images of mouse-creatures, and all over are the signs of death and the grotesque. 

Above the virgin and child, there was to be a large lunette in either fresco or bas-relief depicting Christ resurrected; above this there are tapering windows which make a kind of upward gesture, a dynamic movement blocked as the windows are overshadowed by heavy lintels; above these rises the dome of the chapel, a close copy of the dome of the Pantheon in Rome.  Thus the decoration begins at the lower level with the figures of Lorenzo and Giuliano--opposed as symbols of solar (active) and lunar (contemplative) men-- seated above the times of death, which are represented by the pair of day and night opposed to the pair of dusk and dawn--; from this the chapel rises to a two- or "two-and-a-half-dimensional" lunette depicting resurrection, which is movement beyond death, and, I think, transcendence of time; above this there is a pure form, the dome, penetrated at the top by a circle of light.  The purity of the dome is the purity of the sphere, or the circle.  Of all forms, the circle is the closest to pure movement, or transcendence of form.  It is the image of the undivided whole, the picture of eternity. 


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