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Arguably the world's most famous work of art, millions of people visit it every year. Until now however nobody has been able to explain exactly what the Sistine Chapel's ceiling is actually trying to tell us. Though important and timely the film (airing as it does to celebrate the 500th birthday of the work) it is also the product of the detective work and obsessive scholarship by art critic Waldemar Januszczak which spans the last 30 years. During this time he has been trying to unlock the secrets of Sistine Chapel's complex pictorial codes and sumptuous iconography.
This major voyage of discovery traverses both centuries and nations, taking Waldemar from Texas to Jerusalem, from Portugal to Bologna, as he solves the vital clues which reveal for the first time the crucial answers to one of the world's most enduring art mysteries. Much of the inspiration for the Sistine Chapel finds its roots in antiquity but interestingly the scripture which inspired its birth, still finds powerful resonances in our recent history. Tracing strong and direct scriptural links between Michelangelo's masterwork and one David Koresh (cult leader of the Branch Davidians) Waldemar shows quite how powerful and pervasive these myths and prophecies remain.
Cracking the lost code
WHEN an eminent art critic makes a TV programme about one of the acknowledged wonders of European art, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, promising to explain its true meaning, and the documentary opens with newsreel footage of the FBI’s botched raid on the Branch Davidian sect at Waco, Texas in 1993, in which 80 people died, you might be excused for wondering just what is going on?
Think Sistine ceiling, after all, and as like as not you’ll visualise the famous, not-quite-touching hands of God and Adam, outstretched in the divine act of creation - possibly, as Waldemar Januszczak puts it, the most famous fingers in art. But the whole import of that fantastically painted ceiling, believes the Sunday Times art critic, is not about creation but about ultimate destruction. Januszczak has spent the past two decades decoding Michelangelo’s spectacular artistry and his theory says much, not only about Renaissance religious thinking, but also about the dangers of religious iconoclasts and fanatical self-belief. For, he argues, both the hugely powerful popes who built and decorated the Sistine Chapel, and David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidian sect, believed they were, in effect, new Messiahs and harbingers of the world’s end.
Januszczak’s theory is expounded in a Channel 4 documentary, The Michelangelo Code, to be shown on 21 May. "Basically I’m saying two things," he says. "One is that we’ve been going, in our millions, into the Sistine Chapel for 500 years and we’ve misunderstood it all that time. The second is that it was actually produced for very dark and weird reasons."
What connects the massacre of the Branch Davidians in Waco in 1993 with the birth of printing and Michelangelo and Jerusalem and the Sistine Chapel and that angry minor prophet who wrote book 38 of the Old Testament, Zechariah? It is not, I admit, the sort of question one asks oneself merrily every day. But it is what I forced myself to keep asking as I poked about for the best part of 20 years in the nether regions of civilisation, round and round the houses, in and out of libraries, through Rome, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and a place in Portugal called Evora, seeking to crack the lost code of the Sistine Chapel.
Originally posted by Seekerof
This is related to a conspiracy or scandal how, infinite?
Let me know before I move it.
Originally posted by Atomix
I was going to watch it but I got the time wrong! There better be a re-run......
Originally posted by Lysergic
did he have a time machine, or did he use ninja magic to see into the future?