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Archive for flaw

David, a man flawed…

In 1501, 25 year old Michelangelo began working on his colossal masterpiece, the 17 foot tall marble ‘David’.  From a huge block of marble that had been abandoned decades earlier by another sculptor, Michelangelo took on the challenge of David, portrayed in the Bible as the young shepherd boy who slew the giant Goliath, and went on to become the valiant, just and God-appointed Hebrew King.

Michaelangelo's David

Michelangelo's David

Michelangelo was painter, sculptor, and architect.  In his era, all three forms of art were thought to be based on an artistic discipline built on knowledge of the male human form.  Sculpture was considered the finest of art forms, because it mimics divine creation; the sculptural image found within the block of stone, much as the human soul is found within the physical body.

The ‘David’ is considered a masterpiece, an ideal male form combining heroic strength and human uncertainty.  It was erected in 1504 in the public plaza of Florence, the Piazza della Signoria.

All a bit high brow, granted.  But the story of how Michelangelo sourced the block of marble is fascinating.  As an up and coming sculptor, renowned for remarkable skill, the quarry owners were falling over themselves to supply him with the purest marble block for the commissioned project.

But the artist was looking for something special, something that really did suggest human soul and human uncertainty.  A pure white block was not what he wanted, but he set about seeking a block that was flawed in some way, cast aside and abandoned, deemed unfit purpose.

And this is what he did.  He sourced a block that has been cut decades before but never used because of its percieved low quality.  But Michelangelo’s understanding of the bible David (his triumphs & failures) had to be represented in the sculpture.  The block was flawed.  It had numerous discolourations and was far from pure.  Just like the man David, just as Michelangelo saw him, magnificent yet flawed.  A noble ruin.

I have no idea of where Michelangelo’s understanding of the gospel or bible truth lay, but when you hear a story like that, it’s gets you chomping at the bit to include it in a preach!  It’s possible that he came to understand David (from boy to King) as he studied his character and life in preparation to sculpt him.  Seeing him in his triumphs and failures, under the hand of God’s mercy and favour, perhaps caused the artist to think.

Michaelangelo, self-portrait

Michelangelo, self-portrait

Here’s the deal.  We are image bearers of creator God (noble, and very good), yet fallen in rebellion (ruin).  David was a great leader, example and King, yet ruined by error (ie. adultery & murder).  Not much hope, eh?

But Jesus came to put right every flaw, every error, all that ever ruined us.  He was flawed for us, took them upon himself, that we might regain nobility.  Perhaps Michelangelo knew this and put real soul and uncertainty into his David for that very reason.