In the history of art itself, one could never imagine the toil artist Michelangelo went through to create something as masterful and important as the frescoes inside the Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo compared himself to said martyrs for the physical, emotional, financial, and mental strife that creating such a masterpiece caused him. The laborious task took 10 years to complete and has been studied by the masses since its inception.
The collection of murals is a sight to see in one’s lifetime due to the sheer genius behind his artistic visuals. On the other hand, planning a trip to Italy to see the chapel is not only time consuming but expensive and difficult to make happen. Many never get to see the dynamic figures draped across the wall, and due to constant upkeep, it may soon become too difficult to see the chapel in its full glory. It is a dilemma that comes with the omnipresent factor of time.
As of this summer, seeing the intricacies of the chapel first-hand has become easier for average American, thanks to the Westfield Group, whose team was responsible for the construction of the Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center. Up Close: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is a travelling art exhibition that is currently showcasing throughout the Northeast, making a stop at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey from September 1st – October 15th.
The Oculus at World Trade is something of an architectural marvel itself. The monumental beams arc upwards to a point almost reminiscent of the architectural stylings of a Pre-Renaissance era cathedral and its stark bright whiteness lays a perfect background for the vibrancy of the exhibits frescoes. Although visible from the outside, actually viewing the gallery in its entirety is highly recommended as it allows you to truly get close enough to see the pristine detail in Michelangelo’s muscular figures.
The photographs of the artworks are blown up to near life-size proportion and scattered throughout a large section of the hall there is an abundance of room to soak up all the drama, symbolism and secrets that the images hold. Many patrons also choose to listen to the audio tour to get a more in-depth insight into the inspirations and musings of the tortured artist and the time he spent creating some of the most recognised and replicated artwork in the world. Although placed as the centrepiece of one of the world’s busiest transportation hubs, there is a relaxed yet pensive aura to the space and spectators are given the free range to view the full-scale paintings in a way the real chapel can simply not give to every visitor.
The exhibition is a stunning experience for any art enthusiast, it gives a look into the passion and symbolic importance behind the images. Its themes and motifs can be linked to life today raising the question, “have we as a people changed all that drastically?” The rich and interesting history leaves a lasting impression on the world and holds a mirror up to human nature itself.