“Every artist was first an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. This was ringing in my head as I passed artist after artist set up on the streets of Florence. An Italian city known for its art and fashion. I pondered as I progressed to see the David. Hum, if Michalangelo were one of these artists on the street, would passerbyers today miss his genius? Sadly, in our fast paced distractability, I think the answer is largely yes. History is not who should be telling us to stop and marvel at creative genius in our midst. Please don’t wait for decades to pass and someone else to tell you that something has high value–find it yourself, even if you are the only one.
Lines often get a little blurry when we talk about what gets classified as art. The great impressionist painters Degas, Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Manet…were all chased out of Paris in horror and accused with trying to destroy the art world when they entered their pieces in the Salon, hoping to be displayed. They were forging a new way of seeing the world and it was not received well. Few passerbyers would have stood in awe at what they were creating the way we do today. Makes me wonder what genius I’ve failed to see.
As I waited to enter the Accademia Gallery to see Michaelangelo’s David, I passed this wall where others felt compelled to leave their mark. Screaming out, ‘know I was here, I count too!’ I thought of The Catcher and the Rye…we all want to leave our mark…be it a signature, a graffitied curse, a sketch…we want to know someone will remember us.
Once inside I stepped away to the bathroom and waited in line pondering all I had seen. Then lo and behold, the stall that opened up to me had this lovely portrait drawn on it. I scanned the other stalls as they opened as I left and no others had art work…I felt like God was winking at me! 😉
The David. Maybe I should stop there? Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen Michelangelo’s famous statue in art books, post cards, posters, etc. over the years. To stand in its actual presence is entirely something else. These tiny representations by no means convey its power. It’s towering 17′ presence, on a several foot high pedestal allows you to move around and take in all it’s intricate carving, even with the constant crowds. It’s most popular view is the front, but if you stop there, you are missing detail in leg strength and musculature that is spectacular throughout his entire body.
All to have started with a giant slab of marble and the vision of one man whose hands were skilled in a way to see magnificent potential that just needed to escape the slab. As Degas said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
The Accademia had statues all about its exterior that were incredible to behold as well. Imagine being the scultptor who crafted these pieces…to stand back and behold the work of your hands…incredible! “It is wise to learn; it is God-like to create.” – John Saxe
This is part one of what will be a 4 part blog series on Florence. I warned blog followers, it’s going to take me years to share my 2 weeks in Italy and Greece! Interested to see prior blogs of Venice? Click here to see Venice by night. Click here to see Venice by day.