Michelangelo Was Not a Secret Feminist: An Artistic Fisk

We know that the internet is full of crazies, but every now and then, one of them is so staggeringly deranged, we just have to call them out for it.

Meet today’s maniacal nutjob, Hannah Osborne, of the International Business Times.  She decided to write up this preposterous bit of demented refuse for the whole world to see and deride.  Although, to be perfectly fair, it wasn’t her idea.  The real star of this piece is Deivis de Campos of the UFCSPA (also known as the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre) in Brazil, who made the initial ludicrous claim that “Michelangelo secretly painted symbols of the female anatomy on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.”

Genie

Yes, you did just read that.

First of all . . . what in the world could the International BUSINESS Times possibly have to say about the Sistine Chapel, or art in general?  I know: they have an office in their basement devoted to conspiracy theories, rather than, you know, business.

Yep, Mulder and Scully have a file on Michelangelo and how he was secretly a radical feminist.  It’s right there with the ones labeled “The Jersey Devil,” “Beyond the Sea,” and “The Ghost In the Machine.”

And here you thought that Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code was out in the Twilight Zone.  At least that was a novel, and not a study actually published in a supposedly reputable journal.

So, here at The Catholic Geeks, we’re going to entertain you with a fisk of this particularly memorable idiocy.  As usual, the original text is in italics, and my commentary is in bold.

Michelangelo secretly painted symbols of the female anatomy on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, a team of researchers have said.

Because, you know, it’s not like he painted actual FEMALES on the ceiling of said chapel.

In analysing the central fresco, The Creation of Eve, a team led by Deivis de Campos of the UFCSPA in Brazil claims there are several representations of female anatomy the artist likely concealed,

Concealed?

Stupid

It’s on a gigantic ceiling, out in plain view, for the whole world to see.  It doesn’t get any less “concealed” than that.

potentially as a subversive act and to hide his knowledge of anatomy through dissection.

Um . . .

David

Moving on.

In their study, published in the journal Clinical Anatomy, the team notes that much Renaissance art contains an inner meaning — including animals depicted, positions of characters and juxtapositions.

I’m not even sure what you just said.

Inigo

How about art just being art?  You know, beauty, truth, and goodness?

Michelangelo, as an anatomist, may have felt the need to conceal elements of his paintings via symbols.

There you go again, with the whole “conceal” thing.

Dictionary

conceal: [kuh n-seel] verb (used with object):  1. to hide; withdraw or remove from observation; cover or keep from sight.  2. to keep secret; to prevent or avoid disclosing or divulging.

. . .

IT’S A PAINTING ON A FREAKING CEILING IN THE MIDDLE OF ROME!

And another thing . . . since when is Michelangelo considered an anatomist?  Last time I checked, he was an ARTIST.

The team used imaging software to analyse the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to look for representations of human anatomy.

If I follow that link, I get this: “The Vatican: Hi-Tech Air Conditioning Combats Sweaty Tourists At Sistine Chapel.”  No joke.  Not sure what that has to do with them using imaging software to “analyse” the painting in question, but back to the real disaster here.

“Representations of human anatomy”?  Seriously?  Okay, how about we look at the ceiling in question?

SistineChapel

Okay, now.  What exactly has been portrayed here?  Let’s take a look:

Explanation

Basically . . . lots.  More than anyone can address in a single article or blog post.

So, let me get this straight.  You’re going to look at this artistic masterpiece, all its stories, characters, and magnificent depictions of biblical wonders, and concentrate on “human anatomy,” which, last time I checked, was a modern euphemism for “male and/or female private parts”?

I can’t even begin to address how wrong you are.  Not just wrong, but disgusting.

Moving on.  Because even though just just tried to take what is perhaps the greatest (in scope, if not in quality; the latter depends upon taste, which is not disputable) painting of all time and turn it into a dirty joke in a high-schooler’s brain, you actually get worse as you go along.  I didn’t know that was possible, but once again, the internet has proven me wrong.

Depictions of female anatomy are normally associated with a downward pointing triangle, while those for males would be upwards pointing.

Really?  Really?!  You must have a very dirty mind.

Triangle

OH MY GOSH, SOMEONE CALL CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES!  AN UPWARD POINTING TRIANGLE IN RANGE OF A SMALL CHILD!

Please.  Just . . . shut up.

They found the position of Eve’s arm and forearm “clearly resembles the shape of an inverted triangle . . . thus, in the exact centre of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling . . . Michelangelo may have placed a notorious pagan female symbol”.

BlueScreen

. . . wha–?  Where am I?  Oh, right.  I’m fisking this article.  I blacked out there for a second.

Ahem.  My point was . . . wait, now I have to read it again.  *sigh*

BlueScreen

I can’t, I just can’t do it.  My brain can’t handle the stupid.  I guess this person must be an alien, because when last I checked, THE HUMAN ELBOW BENT IN ONLY ONE DIRECTION.

Unless, of course, you’re this poor, unfortunate soul:

Elbow

But, considering Michelangelo wasn’t painting a First Aid manual on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel . . . yeah, you’re wrong.  I am fairly certain (considering I have eyes and can look at the painting, which means I’m probably miles ahead of you) that Eve is petitioning God for something.  That looks a bit prayerful, doesn’t it?

Eve

Triangles don’t enter into it.  Go find some crayons and practice staying in the lines of your coloring book.  You shouldn’t be allowed to play in the real world.  You might hurt yourself.

This inverted triangle shape is found in several other areas of the painting, including the presence of bull or ram skulls in the central section — the meaning of which has never been explained. According to their hypothesis, the team says these skulls “directly related to the figure of the female internal anatomy.”

Um . . . you know where that link takes me?  “Justin Bieber ‘Scolded for Playing Football in Pope’s Museum.”  Somebody find the author and her editors’ brains; they seem to have been misplaced somewhere.  Or wait . . .

Zombie

And back to the main stupidity of this particular paragraph.  You think that a bull or ram skull has only that one meaning?  Let’s see, I wonder why Michelangelo might have painted a ram or a bull on a ceiling that also depicted Old Testament events?  Maybe because those were the usual sacrifice offered to God?

Genesis 22:13 — “Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw behind his back a ram amongst the briers sticking fast by the horns, which he took and offered for a holocaust instead of his son.”

Exodus 29:15-18 — “Thou shalt take also one ram upon the head whereof Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands.  And when thou hast killed him, thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and pour round about the altar: And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and having washed his entrails and feet, thou shalt put them upon the flesh that is cut in pieces, and upon his head. And thou shalt offer the whole ram for a burnt offering upon the altar: it is an oblation to the Lord, a most sweet savour of the victim of the Lord.”

2 Kings 6:13-14 — “And when they that carried the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a ram: And David danced with all his might before the Lord: and David was girded with a linen ephod.”

Daniel 8:7 — “And when he was come near the ram, he was enraged against him, and struck the ram: and broke his two horns, and the ram could not withstand him: and when he had cast him down on the ground, he stamped upon him, and none could deliver the ram out of his hand.”

I got more.

That ram’s head isn’t “directly related to the figure of the female internal anatomy.”  It’s directly related to the religious symbolism Michelangelo went through a lot of trouble to paint on that ceiling.  Get over yourself, get your mind out of the gutter, and shut up.

Researchers believe Michelangelo included these symbols as a subversion to the Church – similar to the way he includes Jewish heroes and themes throughout.

. . .

Hades I'm fine

What part of SALVATION IS FROM THE JEWS is not understood here?!  Of COURSE he used “Jewish heroes and themes throughout,” because they’re also CATHOLIC heroes and themes!  He wasn’t subverting the Church!  If he was so anti-Catholic, why did he accept the commission in the first place?  Why was he working on the sculptures for St. Peter’s Basilica on behalf of Pope Julius II?

You are delusional.  You’re using a coincidence to try and prop up your own anti-Catholic ideology, and you’re not even doing a very good job.

“Michelangelo idolised all the teachings associated with the sacred feminine,” they wrote. “This is because the power of women and their ability to produce life was held very sacred in ancient pagan and Jewish teachings.”

Wow, tell me where you got your time-traveling or mind-reading abilities. I’d really like to have those, too.  Because that’s the only way you can possibly have come to that conclusion . . . IF it were true in the first place.  And it isn’t.

The power of women to produce life is held sacred in the Catholic Church, too.  Oh, wait.  That doesn’t support your stupid theory, so you’ll just ignore that bit.

“However, this threatened the rise of the predominantly male Catholic Church. Thus, we postulate that Michelangelo concealed the symbols associated with female anatomy because he knew that the Pope would never favour such representations.”

You've gotta be kidding me

I don’t think my brain can take much more of this.  What year did Michelangelo paint that chapel?  Oh, right.  1508.  That means the Catholic Church had been around for . . . I dunno, maybe FIFTEEN HUNDRED YEARS before Michelangelo came around.  So, what’s this “rise” you’re talking about?  The Church was already there.  She wasn’t in dire need of a boost in popularity.   It was 1508.  At that time, you were either Catholic, or Jewish, or a pagan.  Period.  You had no other choice (except for the Eastern Orthodox, which wasn’t much of an option in Italy at the time).  So stop trying to put modern ideas into the heads of Italians in the 16th century.

Furthermore, at the time of painting the Sistine Chapel, the Catholic Church had banned dissection of the human body as it “was considered a divine mystery.” It is known Michelangelo would have studied dissected cadavers, so he may have used symbol form to represent anatomical features.

Logic Brain Freeze

Sources.  Where are your sources?  I just stopped reading your tripe and looked up dissection in the 16th century, and even freaking Wikipedia disagrees with you.  “Dissection was rare during the Middle Ages, but it was practiced, with evidence from at least as early as the 13th century. . . . An edict of the 1163 Council of Tours, and an early 14th century decree of Pope Boniface VIII have mistakenly been identified as prohibiting dissection and autopsy, misunderstanding or extrapolation from these edicts may have contributed to reluctance to perform such procedures. . . . Frederick II (1194-1250), the Holy Roman emperor, ruled that any that were studying to be a physician or a surgeon must attend a human dissection, which would be held no less than every five years. . . . The Catholic Church is known to have ordered an autopsy on conjoined twins Joana and Melchiora Ballestero in Hispaniola in 1533 to determine whether they shared a soul. They found that there were two distinct hearts, and hence two souls, based on the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles, who believed the soul resided in the heart.”

You’re not just wrong in your ideas about art; you’re wrong about very BASIC HISTORICAL FACTS.  Why should we listen to you, again?

“In times of intolerance and religious persecution, art almost never dared to openly express what the artist was eager to communicate,” the authors observed.

You’re so full of it, your eyes are brown.  What religious persecution?  Michelangelo was a Catholic, working for the Catholic Church, in the middle of the Renaissance, which was basically the Catholic Golden Age.  There were NO SUCH THINGS AS PROTESTANTS at the time, so it’s not like he was being persecuted for that.  He wasn’t a Jew or a pagan, or even an Orthodox Christian of any stripe, so there was no way that any Catholic in Italy would have a problem with him.  So, unless he was persecuted for being a better artist than Raphael, your argument is invalid.

Fool

“Codes, hidden allusions, symbols and veiled references that were understandable only to a very small circle of contemporaries were the only recourse available to those who broke with the traditional dogmas of the time.”

Poor fool he makes me laugh

Michelangelo was painting the story of salvation on the ceiling of a chapel in the middle of Rome.  He wasn’t breaking with anything.

They concluded: “Like other Renaissance artists of his time, Michelangelo often introduced anatomic figures, sexual innuendos and rude insults to patrons without them being aware.

Really?  Like what?  I didn’t notice anything insulting in the Sistine Chapel?  Get your mind out of the gutter.  The man was a Catholic.  He spent a good deal of his life creating works of art FOR THE CHURCH that still survive today, and set the standards of the art of his age.  Why would someone like that insult not only the Pope who hired him, but God as well, by putting something inappropriate in His house?  Are you serious?  Only a modern pagan would suggest something like that.  You’re the only ones with the nerve.

“For him, Christianity was not superior to any other form of religion. Michelangelo may have concealed symbols associated with female anatomy to actually exalt the female image that was widely neglected by the Catholic Church.”

Oh, here we go again.

Coronation

How about this one?

Mary

Our Holy Mother is not impressed with your argument.

Joan

Neither is St. Joan of Arc.

Michelangelo was NOT the only Renaissance artist to depict women.

Recognize her?

MonaLisa

Yeah, Renaissance art.

Congratulations, Ms. Osborne and Senor de Campos.  I hereby declare you to be the Tenured Muttonheads of the Internet.  Not only are you wrong about art in general, you can’t even do basic internet research on simple historical facts.  You took aim at Michelangelo and the Catholic Church with your little pointy stick, and hit nothing but air.

Lance

Nope, your pointy stick is too pathetic to be granted the title of “lance.”  It’s a pointy stick, only useful for amusing small yappy dogs.  Now go away before I taunt you a second time.


lsbFollow the squirrel minion to get to Lori’s website, Little Squirrel Books.

This entry was posted in Fisks and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Michelangelo Was Not a Secret Feminist: An Artistic Fisk

  1. TWO Bluescreens of Death. That serious. I’ve read Grunge, I know that BSoDs are dangerous.

    Like

  2. JD Cowan says:

    Gnosticism melts brains.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. DBreitenbeck says:

    Dissecting the Sistine Chapel in the hopes of finding hidden pornography strikes me as the perfect allegory for the modern intellectual, who thinks an adolescent obsession with orgasmic pleasure equals enlightenment.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Links to Lori’s Other Geeky Works – Little Squirrel Books

Speak now, or forever hold your comment.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s