An few interesting sniplets of an even more interesting and apparently vanished documentary about Michelangelo and The Sixtine Chapel in the Vatican, Rome:
The Sixtine Chapel, one of the most important Vatican chapels. Roy Doliner believes Michelangelo had presented his secret religious convictions here.
Doliner: In all his paintings, Michelangelo breaks with every rule, not only through his subversive messages, but also related to painting itself.
In decrypting the forbidden messages of the roof of The Sixtine Chapel, one can also learn to decrypt Michelangelo's Pieta. In comparison to the Pieta, Michelangelo had enhanced the art of deceiption in one of his greatest artworks even more here. In 1508, Pope Julius II. orders Michelangelo with a tremendous task. He is chosen to paint the roof of The Sixtine Chapel.
Doliner: The commission decides to create the largest fresco paintings at the time. The roof of The Sixtine Chapel holds an area larger than 500 m2.
Michelangelo had never been given the task to paint a fresco before. In a fresco, the paint is placed on top of the wet plaster.
Doliner: The Pope knows that Michelangelo is not a fresco painter and issues him a relatively easy task. According to the Catholic tradition, in the four room edges the evangelists Mathew, Marcus, Luke and John are to be displayed, on top of the windows the Pope wants to see the Apostels, and on top of the door through which the Pope enters the Chapel, he wanted Jesus.
Doliner: Michelangelo sets up near the entrance and covers all with heavy cloak. His explanation: cover for paint dropping off the ceiling. The real reason was, he wanted nobody to find out that he broke the contract on day one.
Only a few years earlier, his two teachers died under mysterious circumstances. Roy Doliner believes Michelangelo was hiding their teachings in his new project.
Doliner: Does he paint Jesus over the entrance door ? No ! Instead, he places prophet Zaccharia there.
In order to please Pope Julius, Michelangelo gives Zaccharia the look of the Pope.
Doliner: So, Julius comes in and when he sees this he says: "So, you decided to paint me instead of Jesus, I'm good with that". But behind the Pope are two figures, two angel-like cupidos, and one of the cupidos' hand is doing this. Now this, in the 14th and 15th century, is the same as what is described today with our middle finger. To put it in more technical terms, the angels are flipping the bird at Julius. If the Pope would have recognized this, Michelangelo would have disappeared before he was able to paint anything else.
The Pope oversaw the provocative gesture, and Michelangelo could continue to display hidden messages in the gigantic roof fresco. Just like in his famous Pieta, one of his themes is sensual love. The central panel of the Sixtine Ceiling is marked by the fall of men, the moment in which Eve seduces Adam. From the 14th until up to the 16th century there were many discussions about what the fall of men actually meant.
Did Adam and Eve actually have sex ? If so, did they take pleasure in it ? Which positions did they partake ? If one would turn Eva's head in The Sixtine Chapel 180 degrees, her head would literally stick to Adam's genitals. That suggests a form of sex that is characterized by pleasure, not reproduction, which is of course contradictory to the entire church teachings.
In Michelangelo's paintings, the first human experiences are of a sexual kind, naturally and inherently. But that view is not the most important one. The first piece of the puzzle, the most important one, is in the part of the creation of the human being.
Doliner: Now, there was a lot of debate because it didn't make sense to many. You see the red veil behind God, people said it doesn't make sense. Why do the angels need to hold God up in the air ? What's that green veil hanging down ? In 1975, an American surgeant medical doctor sees the painting and says: "Oh my God, these are cerebrum, cerebellum, cortex, occipital lobe, hypophysis and brainstem, which connects to the spinal cord". It's the perfect cut through the right side of the human brain !
Michelangelo once again shows his profound knowledge of human biology. However, Roy Doliner believes he wanted to leave us an even bigger picture of his convictions.
Doliner: Now, it's not just the anatomy Michelangelo displays in his painting, but additional secret knowledge from the Kabbala. In Jewish prayers, people thank God for all the wisdom that went into his design of the human body. It is believed that God had created humans with 'Hohma' - with divine wisdom. Now wisdom, in the Kabbalistic tree of life, is attributed to one human body part: the right side of the human brain ! So, in The Sixtine Chapel, God creates Adam with heavenly wisdom, with 'Hohma'.
Michelangelo relies, typically for the Renaissance, also on Greek and Christian-Mystical aspects. Hohma is attributed in the Greek philosophy to Sophia, the female incarnation of wisdom. And in Michelangelo's painting, God holds a classical female character in the scene of the creation of Adam: Sophia.
This Bozetto could be the template for one of the world's most famous artworks: Michelangelo's Pieta. If proven real, the sculpture would be invaluable. Also, it could bring light into Michelangelo's hidden messages.
Doliner: The discovery of this cupid is fairly spectacular. There are two big differences that are noticable right away between the sculpture and the final product. The Vatican Pieta in the Petersdome right behind me shows no cupid, that's the first difference. It was problematic because it displays the cardinal sin of erotic passion for cupid. The second difference is the face of the mother virgin and her age. She only looks about 20, and she should be pushing 50.
Michelangelo had most likely been forced to remove the cupid. But he could have encrypted his message in the face of Mary. Is this Mary not really Jesu mother, but rather his wife Mary Magdala ? Roy Doliner would not go so far.
Doliner: If they had any inkling that Mary Magdala was in the statue, it would have been the end of young Michelangelo. So Mary Magdala sitting in the Vatican instead of mother Mary, I don't buy it.
Indeed, we have to ask ourselves if this woman is in fact his mother. Maybe not. The statue displays erotic love and this message was in stark contradiction to the church teachings. This is how he was hiding his message.