For this week's blog post:
1. Read about censorship of the Sistine chapel during the Renaissance (text below)
2. Read the Time magazine article about political censorship today in Russia. Then complete your blog post.
Definition of censor from dictionary.com: "censor"
In the vault of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo created an extraordinary gallery of characters (more than 300 figures) that gives life to the whole history of humanity, from creation until the coming of Christ.
Two decades later, Michelangelo was again called to work on the Sistine Chapel on behalf of Pope Paul III. Between 1533 and 1541 he painted the Last Judgment on the wall behind the altar. It is a painting of a great expression; in the centre of the painting you can see Christ surrounded by Saints and Angels, who proclaimed the Last Judgment. Toward him rise the resurrected for eternal salvation, while the damned are falling to hell.
The Last Judgment was the issue of a tough dispute between the Cardinal Carafa and Michelangelo. The artist was accused of immorality and intolerable obscenity, because he had painted nude figures with their genitals clearly exposed, in the most important church of Christianity.
Therefore a campaign of censorship (known as the campaign of fig leaves) was organized by Cardinal Carafa and Monsignor Sernini (Ambassador of Mantova) to remove the frescoes. Giordano Vasari said that the Master of Ceremonies for the Popes, Biagio of Cesena, made a similar complaint, saying that it was more suited to a thermal bath than a chapel. Also when Michelangelo painted a self-portrait, painted on the figure of Minosse, Judge of Hell, Biagio da Cesena complained to the Pope. The Pontiff replied that its jurisdiction did not apply to hell and so the portrait remained. According to other studies, the character portrayed in the Minosse is Pierluigi Farnese, the son of Pope Paul III, well known in Rome for being violent and to have raped a young cleric causing his death.
Coinciding with the death of Michelangelo, a law was issued to cover the genitals of the painting (‘Pictura in Chapel Ap.ca coopriantur’), so Daniele of Volterra, who was Michelangelo’s apprentice, carried out the work. After, he was nicknamed ‘Braghettone’, because he covered the genitals, but left intact the rest of the painting.
When the work was restored in the 1993, restores did not uncover the figures that Daniele had painted. However a replica of the painting, without being censured, by the artist Marcello Venusti, is displayed in the Museum of Capodimonte in Naples. The Chapel was restored (from 1981 to 1994).
Read about Russia's crackdown on political art that occurred in 2009 as described by Time magazine.
Answer the following questions in your reflection:
1. Why do you think art is targeted for censorship?
2. What power does art have today (as well as in the past)?