He was sweating, his hands moving in a blur, ever so eager to let the image in his mind that was screaming out at him out of the marble. Moving, moving, moving, tool after tool, noises that made his ears ring, months of exhilarating work, still moving, still moving, still… Finally still. After many months, nay, years, of hard work, the angel was out. The enclosure it was trapped in had been diminished, reduced to an empty nothingness, letting the angel, in all of its glory, stand proud, awe-inspiring, hauntingly beautiful. All of his hard work, all of the sleepless nights, all of the tiresome days he spent carving can be seen, and lived, even, in the short statement, “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.
Centuries ago, Michelangelo lived, setting angels free. It only makes sense that he would do so; he himself had the hands, and name, of an angel. Still, today, his sculptures are almost… frightening, for lack of a better word, in the sense that they seem to hold your gaze. I have never had the pleasure to see them in person, but I have lived vicariously through the pictures and stories friends and family members show and tell me of the sculptures he erected. If today, those works can bring so much joy to people, it really makes one wonder just how much joy would be brought to someone who lived at the same time as he, someone who had witnessed the strenuous work and tiresome days he endured while the image of the angel struggled to leave that cage. Personally, I imagine him to be a perfectionist, but, of course, it cannot be said whether or not he was; it can definitely, however, be said that he was an aesthete; his work took so long, and the people who viewed the grandeur of his effort certainly were.
Michelangelo must have had super-human powers; not many people are able to see a blank canvas as a beautiful, finished product, especially in this day and age, where giving up before even starting is so common. This generation, well, I will not say we are lazy, but we are simply disheartened so easily, and oftentimes spoon-fed from the time we are born, that when faced with a challenge, we get so scared in the face of it that we refuse to even attempt to put up with it. For example, I love writing, but when faced with a prompt or contest, I get scared and disheartened, more times than not out of self-doubt. Michelangelo, however, was not like that at all. Marble was set in front of him, and he so suddenly saw something staring up at him from it that he slaved over it until that face, that almost haunting image, was released, until it no longer hung over him, like the Grim Reaper over a cancer patient. He was hardworking, truly, to willingly put in the effort to free something as perfect as that from its cage. I know that I, for one, would never be able to do that, and that is probably true about a large number of people today.
Michelangelo saw beauty in marble, something some would argue is so very plain, and, in contrast to the flourishing Florence he lived and studied in, the simple white rock set in front of him must have been oh-so boring to look at. The Florence he lived in was the home of the flowering European Renaissance, and the greatest artistic center at the time, housing many artists and wealthy patrons willing to pay them. For him to see beauty in something so plain when people would kill to experience the beauty he was surrounded with is truly a difficult feat, but he saw it and he did not give up until the beauty matched, even exceeded, the beauty of his surroundings. Him seeing the angelic features of the marble makes one wonder what he thought of the rest of the world. Nowadays, there is so little beauty in the world; nearly half of the world’s population lives in poverty, and one percent of it eats from silver spoons, pretending they are happy as they struggle with mental illnesses, and other misfortunes. The point I am trying to make is that Michelangelo was able to create something that exceeded the beauty of his time, something that was aeviternal, something that surely exceeds the beauty of today’s artificial, dishonest world.
This quote has seemingly endless explanations, yet none of them do justice at all to the beauty of his words, or, to his works. His words are eternal, infinite, the world itself seems to begin and collapse in that simple phrase. His words and works were something of great allure, and they will surely continue to inspire awe in humanity until the end of time