Touching hands

Everdien Breken Florence 04 270101Now let’s talk art for a change. Can’t visit Florence without paying a duty call to Michelangelo’s David. So I did – and was impressed. I was not prepared for its size, nor for the life it has, the ‘aura’ I’ve learned to call it.  It has been so over-publicised  – at home I even have a copy on a very irreverent apron that eldest girl likes to wear – that its greatness came as a big surprise.

Mind you, I’ve never liked its head, and I still don’t. Very handsome, but also very schematic. And out of proportion to the rest of the body. What really touched me, though, were the  hands. These hands are real-life: workmanlike, capable, done in such detail that it is hard to believe they are not flesh and blood. The head leaves me indifferent, but the hands touch me.

Later: bought a biography of Michelangelo and started reading it. He was indeed not much interested in doing portraits, but fanatical about the rest of the male body. The task he set himself was to embody the Humanist ideals in his sculpture and painting. Ideals that he learned at the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici  – he lived with Lorenzo and his family for several years.

I have cause to be grateful to Lorenzo and his band of scholars and artists. Their advocacy of  observation, craft, and practical techniques paved the way for empirical observation and experimentation: cornerstones of modern science and inspiration for my artistic practice.

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