Michelangelo, Pietà

Michelangelo, Pietà

Saint Peter’s Basilica standing in front of
Michelangelo’s Pieta. DR. BETH HARRIS:
I feel very lucky, because on this rainy Monday
morning, we’re the only ones. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: And it
actually looks quite small– DR. BETH HARRIS: It does. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: In
relationship to the chapel that holds it, but
also especially in relationship to Saint
Peter’s, which is so vast. DR. BETH HARRIS: Of
course, this sculpture was made for a
cardinal, but then it was placed in the
old Saint Peter’s, which was significantly
smaller than this one. And so it would have had
a different relationship to the architecture. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: What
I’m finding interesting is despite the fact that
it’s relatively small, and probably about
20 feet away from us, it’s still a really
intimate image. There really is this
extraordinary relationship that Michelangelo
has constructed between the body
of the dead Christ and his mother, the Virgin
Mary, who holds him on her lap. DR. BETH HARRIS: Mary looks
very young and beautiful, but her body is– and her lap
is sort of enlarged to carry the body of her dead son, but
the realization that dead body, of its weight– DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: It’s weight. DR. BETH HARRIS: One of the most
beautiful passages, I think, of the sculpture is the way
that she holds up his right arm, and pulls up that
flesh a little bit. And you really
feel first of all, that the marble is transformed
by Michelangelo into flesh, but also the weight of that
body, and through that weight, the loss of life that’s
so palpable for Mary. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
It’s the complete lack of resistance that
his body offers and the exertion that she has
to extend in order to hold him. And that contrast
makes for the viewer, I think, a very
physical experience looking at the sculpture. DR. BETH HARRIS: His
body looks so much like the body of a real,
young man, the ribcage and the abdominal muscles. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
And yet it’s also idealized in the
way in which there’s this beautiful turn of
his body across her lap. And for Mary as well, there’s
this interesting contradiction in her sweetness,
and the beauty, but also the strength and the
scale that’s necessary for her to easily hold him. Look at how deeply
carved that marble is. DR. BETH HARRIS: The drapery. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
This real love of the turn of the stone, that’s
creating this very vivid sense of alternation, really,
of light and shadow, the complexity of
surface against the broad, pure surfaces of
Christ’s legs, of his torso, of his arm. DR. BETH HARRIS: Mary tilts her
head forward, and looks down at him. His head is thrown
back, so there’s [INAUDIBLE] between
those two necks for me. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: And
his neck is exposed to us, incredibly vulnerable. Christ’s foot hangs in midair. Mary, her left hand is open and
pointing delicately forward, as if she still trying
to comprehend his death. DR. BETH HARRIS: But
I think there’s also a way of presenting Christ’s
body to the viewers, saying this is the
path to salvation. This is God’s sacrifice for
mankind, my sacrifice of my son that makes possible
your redemption. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: There
is a kind of rhythm that points to that hand. The drape and the knee point
up towards Christ’s knees, which in turn create a kind of
rhythmic bridge to her hand, and to that sense of wondering. This is very clearly
an image that’s meant to be contemplated. And the pain and the suffering
that Christ has endured that– DR. BETH HARRIS:
And Mary’s enduring. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: That
Mary is enduring is meant to be contemplated
as a pathway. DR. BETH HARRIS: They’re
polishing the floor. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
OK, let’s move on.

59 thoughts on “Michelangelo, Pietà

  1. Amazing sculpture…I do not think this has ever been surpassed…and I really appreciate the comments of the people here…

  2. Love how u both talk about art. Quite interesting statements and sometimes I see my personal opinion reflected.
    However, I'm watching ur videos also for my final exam in school 🙂

  3. Yeshua was a carpenter's son yet Mary is shown as if she is 30% larger than Jesus. I assume if Jesus was 5'8" that Mary tops out at 7'-4"?

    Mary worship – that'll get you right to the lake of fire.

  4. This is this most beautiful sculpture I have ever seen. I was so moved by its beauty I cried. Michelangelo finest.

  5. I don't think I will ever be able to comprehend how a person could turn raw stone into something like the 'Pieta.' I seriously can't comprehend it.

  6. I loved this piece in elementary school art class. It was such an awe inspiring sculpture. I was so lucky to stumble upon it at St. Peter's basilica a couple years ago. I felt my childhood, love of art, and tremendous parts of history, all come alive at once. With my renewed relationship with Christ, I feel like it may have also given me life anew. Such a precious memory. I'll always hold dear.

  7. damn that Michelangelo knew his thing.. thank God he didnt live in our lifetime, else he would only make bulls for the wallstreet punks…

  8. My favorite interpretation is based on how youthful Mary’s face is. The idea is – the pose is similar to a Madonna & child – Mary holds Jesus’ dead body as she once held him as an infant. The sculpture is a physical representation of Mary’s thoughts – as a teenager with an infant Jesus – knowing / contemplating – what would come to pass – some 33 laters to be – the sacrifice of her adult child.

  9. There were some incredible photographs taken of the Pieta from all sorts of angles. My favorite is looking down directly into Christ's face. Wish I could copy and paste it.

  10. Hey everyone
    I know this is magnific. But not everyone knows that something horrible happened to this masterpiece.
    On the 21 May 1972 an Hungarian geologist vandalized the statue: with a hammer he destroyed the gentle nose of Mary and her gorgeous arm making them fall as fragments of stone. The restoration was very difficult and took several months and needed several studies. And now we can admire the statue again in a bulletproof shell.
    This is also why when I look to the Pietà I think "how can someone destroy this… beautiful, divine thing?!" And I think about all the patience Michelangelo took to make this from a block of stone but also about all the unknown masterpieces destroyed by wars and insane or careless people…. Think about it and protect art, always😀
    Have a nice day!

  11. The Renaissance artist & art historian Giorgio Vasari called this piece of work by Michelangelo “a miracle”. It is so staggeringly beautiful that I don’t see how anybody could argue with that assessment. That a man could sculpt this out of a lump of rock is beyond belief & no wonder that in his lifetime Michelangelo was known as “Il Divino”, (The Divine One).

  12. Michelangelo szobra. Róma, Szent Péter Bazilikában.
    Készítette az olasz művész a RENESÁNSZ korszaban.

  13. 🙁 poor mary its horrible to see your son dead and get whipped a ton of times a mother shoulden't have to go through this pain

  14. I am a big fan of Smarthistory, but recently they mentioned they are amazed at some viewers (me) disdain for art of the last 75 years, as in Barbara Hepworth's Pelagos. Hello?! Compare her work to the Pieta of Michelangelo. Barbara's "art" compared to this? No comparison.

  15. Such a weird idea that going through extreme pain he has made a sacrifice for redemption. Shows how people will see what they want to see. Even if he did so he exhibited lack of ego, humility, loving surrender and staying true to what he knew to be truth. All his followers should follow suit. Not depend on him to redeem them. That is the stupidity in all religions today. The messengers are touted as Gods and all burden is shifted to the poor saint. You take our burden you take our side of the responsibility. Thats just pure human laziness and making excuses for not striving for thr highest ideals exhibited by the messengers.

  16. I was very fortunate to see the Pieta at the World's Fair in New York. There are no words to describe its beauty!

  17. I just saw the statue for the first time, its beyond words how beautiful it is I almost cried. Pictures and videos do not do this work justice, it must he seen with your own eyes. It is a very moving work of art.

  18. Mary holds Jesus the same way in death that she held him at birth. Close to her, on her lap, fully embraced and supported by her. Her hand outstretched in a gesture of the eternal "why?" Why is this most pure LOVE in human form not understood, appreciated and learned from…but instead rejected, dispised, tortured and killed ? WHY? It is the question we must ask ourselves every day…Are we living lives that appreciate the gift of life and live it as Jesus taught us to…or are we rejecting, preoccupied and even disdainful to a terrible level ?
    Marys' hand which gestures Why? Is the eternal moral question for us all.

  19. la pieta is divine,the greatest work of art this universe will ever produce,i doubt anyone else could do this ever,not even the most complex machine or 3d printer could do this,it's actually anomalis and perplexing,makes art td not worth doing

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