Sunday, August 29, 2010

Censoring Art - During the Renaissance and Today

During our unit on the Renaissance and Reformation we will be learning about how various types of art communicated ideals of Renaissance humanists.  During the Renaissance, many artists feared censorship by the government and catholic church.  For example, Michelangelo's fresco of the Sistine Chapel was censored when the Pope Paul III hired another artist to paint fig leaves over the parts of Michelangelo's frescos that the Vatican believed were "obscene."

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  "censor"

Read below about how the Sistine Chapel was censored by Pope Paul III during the Renaissance
"Excerpt from the "Virtual Vatican Museums."  

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 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.,8599,1905202,00.html

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)?


  1. This week’s blog is about art censorship in Russia. It all started when Michelangelo, the artist who painted with intriguing designs the walls of the Sistine Chapel; started to be criticized by the Pope and other local authorities. These people thought that having "obscene" paintings inside a chapel was not appropriate. The second document tells us that Russia today, still has art censorship issues. Artists are being criticized by authorities. It is getting to the point, were people are no longer free to draw and express themselves as they wish to do; with or without censorship.

    I think art is targeted for censorship because you do not really know who will see the art piece. For example, a little kid could see the art piece, and if it is uncensored, no one can control what the child learns at that certain age and probably uncensored images are not the best choice.
    Art today, and in the past, has a great power over society. It helps us express ourselves. Art is a big thing; it is part of our education.

    Why is Russia the only country who realizes the possible hazards of uncensored art? Or at least, why are they the only ones who do something about it?
    But at the same time, why doesn’t Russia let artists express themselves as they wish?

    I think that Russia will continue to become harsher about this issue, and probably in the near future, other countries will become conscious of uncensored art too.

    Shany Freund

  2. Both texts are about how censorship affected the arts in Russia and in Rome. Michelangelo was told not to paint obscene paintings inside a chapel. Artists in Russia now feel that censorship is now causing great troubles like going into prison for just making a political cartoon.

    Art is targeted for censorship because since people can express freely through it, some people do not like what others think.Today as well as in the past art has the power to show how people feel about different things, it also has the power to transmit ideas.

    Why is Russia censoring artists?
    Did the people painting the cartoons violate any law in Russia?

    I think that Russia will keep censoring artists. The problem is really that Russia does not know what a democracy is from tzars to communists to a government were elections are full of fraud.

  3. This two articles talk about censorship in Rome and Russia. First, the request of censoring the intimate parts of nude people drawn in Michelangelo's painting. This was requested because the Church thought this was obscene. Second, the imprisonment for Russian artists that challenged the criteria of political leaders. This is a sign that the complains to artists and pictures in the past are still around during these days.

    I think that art is targeted towards censorship because this can help avoid conflicts and complains that others may have on certain pictures. Even though there are some restrictions for art, it is still a great way to express a feeling or to communicate a message. That is why people still appreciate art even if some do not like it because it is easier to express someone’s feelings towards a certain topic or event.

    Why did the Pope demanded that the painting was to be changed long after it was painted and not the first time he saw it?
    Why don’t Russian leaders let artist express their beliefs and ideas in peace?

    I think that Art censorship will continue in the future to avoid more conflicts and negative feedback on the artistic community in the world.

  4. The blog for this week is about how censorship affected the arts in Russia and in Rome. It started when Michelangelo, the painter who painted the Sistine Chapel was told not to paint obscene paintings in there. The second document also informs us that Russia still has a problem with censorship today. Artists are being criticized by the authorities. Now it is up to a bad situation that artists can’t even express themselves freely. I think Russia does this so children and others ideas have protection. I say this because for example a little kid and his mom are walking around the city and he sees an obscene painting and asks his mom what it is now not only he saw something fatal but his mom is frustrated because his little boy saw an obscene painting and also it is not nice for her to see that either (i would not like to see obscene art in the street). Art is a big part of our lives as it is now and years before.
    My question is:
    Why is Russia the only country?
    Why doesn’t Russia tech other countries this way to get obscene paintings of the reach of children?
    I think Russia will continue to do this and that some countries will do the same in a few years.
    Alexandra Zorn

  5. Both articles talk about censorship affecting both Russia as well as Rome. In Russia artist have been prosecuted because others don’t like or thinks its not appropriate their art. They would even arrest someone for helping organize an art gathering. In Rome, Michelangelo has been criticized because he painted nude pictures in the Sistine Chapel. Even though he did a magnificent job painting the wall behind the altar and the ceiling, he received lots of criticizes and after his death his apprentice, Daniele of Volterra, fixed the criticized areas.

    I think art is targeted for censorship because people aren’t satisfied with what artist paint and criticize what they do. In my opinion artist should not be criticized of their pieces of work because painting is a way to show the artist feeling and ideas. Art has power today as well as in the past because art shows what people think, feel or want to communicate. Not everyone will like the art piece because it expresses the artist ideas and maybe not everyone feels the same.

    Why cant people respect the artist choice of art piece and let them paint what they feel and like?
    What is the problem with Russia and letting people paint and express what they feel?

    I think that this will continue to happen unfairly and artist will continue to be censored.

  6. This article talks about censorship towards nude paintings. In the Sistine Chapel Michelangelo created a painting that was considered an intolerable obscene painting. On the other document it talks about the censorship in Russia, this basically tells us that censorship to paintings is still an issue.

    I think that what’s awesome about art is that you can express yourself however you want. Some artist think if the body as an extraordinary piece of art. For some people nudity in paintings is obscene, while others think of it as beautiful. So art might be targeted for censorship because you don’t know how people are going to react towards it, so to save up the complains from others they censor it.

    Why can’t they learn to appreciate art in every way?
    Why can’t they let artist feel free to express themselves one hundred percent?

    I guess that thus will continue to be censored, and other countries might as well want to consider the censorship towards art since that way they have it more under control.

  7. In this week's blog is about censoring art in the past and in the present specialy in Russia. It is also about some consecuense Rusian people had when expresing themselfs in their art. Also in the past a lot of things were censured becouse the art was "showing" to much and the church thought of it as inapropiet.

    I think art is target to censorship because the goverment or the belief of a high social level think of it as insutlting, aver the top, rebelion against their laws or by fear of what they don't understand.
    Today art has more respects in some areas than in others. There are new types of expresing themselfs and it works, people has more freedom of speech. In some countries the art is not respected as much, for example Russia. There is no way of showing what you feel of your goverment or other and If they do it they will be arrested. In the past people had to folow one law and can't give their important if they were not important. They felt it insultive and repulsive and had people very controled.

    What is the problem with people expressing their mind when it dosent hurt anyone?

    I think people who can express theselfs sooner or later will fight for their right of expresion.

  8. This blog talks about the censorship of art. Michelangelo a great artist painted the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel. The consequences that brought him by painting this was that people started to criticized the way he painted. Michelangelo painted the people with their genitals showing, and that seemed an offence to Christianity. His apprentice covered the genitals so that nothing "obscene" was showing. The second article about Russia explains the same idea how now in Russia art is censored and how they take action for inappropriate drawings.
    I think that art is targeted for censorship because the way some artists express their ideas might be inappropriate for others. Kids for example cannot see some kind of paintings. That´s why sometimes they censor art for the young people not seeing inappropriate things.
    Art has a great power over society and I think that if for some artists to express ideas involves obscene pictures or nudity then they should be able to do it. Art is a free way of expressing yourself and ideas so no one should be taking that away from an artist. The society cares about art and it has always been like that.
    1. What do the artists think about censorship of art?
    2. Why does only Russia takes action about art censorship?
    My prediction is that art will continue to have success and have power in the world. I don´t think that anyone should take the free ideas of an artist because of obscene drawings.

  9. The two articles talk about the censorship in arts in Rome and Russia.The famous artist Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, which his art showed nudity and people considered it innapopriated, specially for church. Then in Russia people censor innapropate arts and they have consequence towards it, like arrested. This shows us how in the past as in our times the censorship of arts is an important matter.

    In my opinion art is what people express of themselves, what they think, and people are free of drawing anything they want. Nudity can be pretty to some and atrocious to others. I think that art is a target of censorship to avoid conflicts that can become bigger. It is a way a trying to stop fighting and disagreement. Art has great power now as in the past. In the past it showed history as well as today. The art shows ideas and feelings from others. People appreciate to express what they feel through out drawing and some people appreciate it and other not so much, but in all times its has been a powrful thing.

    1. Why can't people just express their feelings freely through out painting, as others express their feelings of dilikement to nudity in art?

    2. Why does people in Russia react to censorship in arts and other countries don't?

    For me people should be able to express their feelings the way they want in paintings, because really it's not fair for them to be restrcited of painting what they consider pretty. Maybe sometime artists can get tired of this event that they will maybe fight for their rights in painting what they want, and it won't be nice to see fightings going on. For me they should give them their freedom in painting.

  10. During the Renaissance, Michelangelo was asked to draw inside the Sistine Chapel. He created an extraordinary painting that gives life to the whole history of humanity, from the creation until the coming of Christ. Even though these were gorgeous drawings, Cardinal Carafa censored them because of nudity. Both of the articles talk about the censoring of art. Russia is having problems with the censored art, and no longer can the artists express what they feel without being criticized.

    Censorship for art is becoming more overpowering through the world. All artists have the right to express themselves through their drawings. Uncensored pictures can be drawn, but some people, like kids, should try to avoid seeing them. Many arts are being targeted for censorship because of the way the people react towards it. Some people may think nudity is a piece of art, and others may find it obscene and obnoxious. Centuries ago, Art was very powerful and many artists were appreciated; today, it still is important, but not as much.

    1. How do the artists feel about this? How do they respond?
    2. Why can’t painters express through painting without being criticized?

    I think this targeting for censorship of art will grow more and more throughout the world and become an issue for artists. It will continue on Russia and artists will start defending for their rights.

  11. This week's blog is about art censorship. Michelangelo was a great painter but he was criticized. His paintings were considered obscene. He painted a frescoes which was taken down because of this. When Michelangelo died a law was established so his apprentice covered the obscene parts of the painting. The Time Magazine article talks about how artists are not being able to express themselves because of censorship. If they do some artwork that an authority doesn't like they can be arrested.
    I think art is targeted for censorship because that is a way in which people can express themselves against the authorities if they don't agree with something. Art has the power of transmitting what you feel and what you think, it is like a language in which you can express yourself.
    Why doesn't Russia let artists express themselves the way they want to?
    How will this stop, or is it going to continue?
    I think this will continue. Also other countries are going to start making these laws. More artists are going to be punished unfairly because of expressing themselves.

  12. These articles talk about art censorship during the Renaissance as well as in current times. It all begun with Michelangelo when he painted the beautiful and impacting ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, Rome. This work of art depicted many religious characters and angels in complete nudity, and the church did not approve of this. As a result, Michelangelo's apprentice, Daniele of Volterra, "fixed" this problem." The other article talks about art censorship in Russia in the current times, and about many artists who have expressed themselves in a liberal and "inappropriate" manner are being jailed and beaten.

    I think art is one of the biggest targets for censorship because over the years it has proved to be very controversial, meaning that it might insult the church or other religious organizations. I think it's also because people possess many different points of view and can think differently of a painting. Art is a liberal way to express oneself and it usually has no boundaries. Art has as great an influence on society now as it did then. It has the power to define a time period, to create arguments, and provoke politicians.

    Why isn't there freedom of expression in Russia if art is such and important part of culture?

    Would there be any true artists if they weren't allowed to paint as they wished?

    I predict that art censorship will not be a problem in the future because it is too important to people. I also think it will not be a problem because it is too influential on society and without art, there is too much structure.

  13. The two articles talk about censorship in art in public places. One of them, is in Rome, Italy in the Sistine Chapel. The other one is in Russia. about obscene art in public places. They censored the roman art because they thought it was no appropriate to draw that in a holy place like the Sistine Chapel. In Russia they censored it because it is not appropriate to show the youth of Russia the obscene works of art.

    Art is targeted for censorship because some artists want to express themselves freely, and in some artwork, it may include obscene things like nudity. also some people don't find nudity obscene. so while some people find it obscene, they censor it.
    1.)Why does only Russia censor art?
    2.)Why do some people get arrested for painting obscene images?
    I predict that Russia will continue to censor the artwork. Even though some people think it is ok to have uncensored pieces of art.

  14. Both articles talk about censorship in Russia and Rome. It all began with nude paintings inside a church by Michaelangelo. He painted with the genitals showing, so that was not good for Christianity. The second article is the same thing, it just explains that artists feel that it is causing great troubles. It talk about what happen when they draw inappropriate things and how art is being censored.
    I think art is targeted for censorship because they way they express what they feel may be too much for other. The power art has today and also in the past is that is is too free, you can express your feeling in your own way and not be criticized.
    1. Why is art being such a big problem(complication)?
    2.Why is Russia censoring arts?
    My prediction is that art will be less free because now if you do nude people you get censored and its a normal thing. So I think art will be less liberating in the ways you express your self.

  15. Both texts are about the expression and problems towards the censorship of art in Rome and in Russia. Michelangelo's painting gets accused for "immorality" and "extreme obscenity" by the Popes and Cardinals, saying that it is totally unacceptable to have a huge painting of nude people in a church. This argument ended when Michelangelo died and his aprentice, Daniele de Volterra, carried on with the project and 'corrected' the offensive parts. In Russia, more and more artists are starting to go to jail just because the government and other people think that their drawings are inappropriate. This means that artists are getting criticized, and the people just don't seem to get the point of view of the artist.

    I think that art is being targeted as censorship because other people misunderstand the meaning of the paintings. However, they don't know that art has the power of expressing people's thoughts and a way to share ideas to others.

    1. Why do people criticize a painting if they don't know what meaning it has?
    2. Why do Russians exagerate the censorship of art?

    I think that this problem of censorship will keep on going in the future unless everyone learns how to respects the ideas and feelings of others.

  16. 1. Why do you think art is targeted for censorship?
    2. What power does art have today (as well as in the past)?

    I think art is targeted for censorship in many cases because in the past and present, many artists express themselves by drawing nude people and to many, they are thought to be wrong or offensive. With censorship there is a thin line between what you should be able to say, and what is considered inappropriate. If art must have a reason to be censored, it should be specifically to people who are not old or mature enough to appreciate the significance and beauty of art. The freedom of expression should have its limits. This type of art should be censored because art is not unrated; it’s meant to be for all audiences. Art’s audience includes children and nude people painted on walls or canvases are not suitable. Nude people can make a lot of people uncomfortable or make a big impact on a kid. On June 11, Alexander Shchednov was arrested because of an inappropriate collage. Artists in Russia are trying to avoid Russia’s art censorship. Art’s power is used in education and as a pastime for others; it also includes influence, inspiration and obsession. Since you can rate or censor movies and films, you can censor a piece of art. It depends on the level of maturity of someone. Why would artists paint improper stuff if it makes others uncomfortable? I think that in the future, if an artist wants to make art, he or she should think of making it appropriate or keep it to himself or herself.

  17. This week's blog talked about the art censorship in Russia and in Rome. Michelangelo started it when he paintes obscene paintings in the ceilings of the sixteenth chapel. Popes thought that those types of drawings were obscene. Artists in Russia think that political cartton are a big deal, and you may be sent to prision for that.

    I think art is targeted or censorship because people may not agree with your iews,a nd art is a very free way from which you may express your views or feelings towards something.

    Why does Russia censor art?
    Do you really need to go to jail just becasue not evrybody agrees with your views?

    I peronally think art will continue to be censored, eventhough some people think uncensored pieces of art are also alright.