Friday, 2 September 2016

The Michelangelo Code

A short piece that I wrote for The Art Newspaper...

The Sistine Chapel. Photo Jean-Christophe Benoist
The Sistine Chapel is decorated with some of the world's most famous frescoes, instantly recognisable and seen by millions of people every year. But a new article in the Journal of Clinical Anatomy argues that there’s more to Michelangelo’s masterpiece than first meets the eye. Researchers argue that Michelangelo encoded pagan female imagery in his frescoes, perhaps as a sneaky way of revering the feminine at a time when the Catholic Church regarded men as superior to women. At the ceiling’s exact centre is an image of Eve, her arms forming a downward-pointing triangle—a yonic symbol. Meanwhile, running along the edge of the ceiling, eight prominent triangles—this time pointing upwards, representing the phallus—contain family groups dominated by mother figures, perhaps to show the importance of both parents. At the peak of each triangle is a bull’s skull with horns, thought by pagans to resemble a uterus and fallopian tubes; by overlapping the peak of each male triangle with the skull, Michelangelo was probably representing sexual union. Perhaps Dan Brown should have written The Michelangelo Code instead?

The original article can be found here: The Michelangelo Code.