Soon it will be Easter, a celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. For centuries artists have commemorated the event in their art. One such commemoration is that of Michelangelo’s “Pietà”.
“Pietà”, which means “pity”, was a common theme in Christian art. Generally, as with Michelangelo’s Pietà, Mary is shown cradling her dead son. Michelangelo was only 24 when he completed the famous Vatican Pietà. But, at the age of 89, he made another Pietà, the Pietà Rondanini (now in Milano). He was still working on it five days before his own death.
Giacometti, not long before dying, spent hours looking at the Pietà Rondanini. Whereas many had interpreted Michelangelo’s last statue as the sculptor’s end, Giacometti, instead, saw it as a new beginning. Had Michelangelo continued to make one Pietà after another for 1000 years, said Giacometti, they would all be unique simply because Michelangelo was too busy moving ahead to fall backwards.
The difference between the two statues is overwhelming. That of the Vatican is slick and smooth and animated. The statue’s mass is a pyramid in a desert of space. Jesus, draped on his mother’s lap, is deposed from life. There’s nothing left in Mary’s expression but resignation.
However, although in comparison it may seem to be clumsier, there’s almost defiance in the Pietà Rondanini. The chisel marks are distinct and, like wrinkled skin, indicate the motion of time. Jesus is no longer distended but, with his mother’s help, erect. And ready for the ascension.
Michelangelo’s view of life was borderline Baroque until, near death, it became somewhat Minimalistic. Because perception changes with age, there’s no way the you of today can be the same as the you of yesterday. Perception also changes with circumstances. Just look at how the coronavirus has reorganized our perception of priorities.
Easter was not meant to be an economic happening. It was meant to celebrate life. And what better way to celebrate now than to stay home to protect our own life and the lives of others.
God gave us a brain so let’s use it.
Related: Dr. Anthony Fauci: Trump’s desire to reopen the country by Easter is an ‘aspirational projection’ + Coronavirus: Trump and religious right rely on faith, not science + Earlier this week, Donald Trump announced during a virtual town hall with Fox News that he would “love to have the country opened up“ by Easter Sunday, which falls on April 12 this year + Michelangelo’s “Pietà Rondanini”, an incunabulum of contemporary art