Saturday, July 11, 2015

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in Montreal

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Exhibition

July 10 - October 12, 2015

Montreal holds a premier of a stunning exhibition - the monumental work of the Renaissance artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), better known as simply Michelangelo. Several North American cities were in the bid to have the premier of this first ever travelling show of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, but it was Montreal that won. In the next 15 years the show will travel all around the world, providing to many people 
a great opportunity to see it. The scaffolding that is used to exhibit the works was made in Montreal. It mimics the scaffolding used when the Sistine Chapel was renovated. It also provides an easy travelling mounting system for this exhibition.

Michelagelo was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who tremendously influenced the development of the western art. During his lifetime, he was considered to be the greatest living artist, and is still considered by many to be the greatest artist of all times. And now, the Montrealers and other visitors from around the world have a unique opportunity to experience in person the grandeur and scope of one of his most magnificent creations, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel.

The works on display are the life-size reproductions of the original frescoes, created with a special photographic reproduction technique that captured the look, size and the feel of the original frescoes through the use of original licensed photos.

The exhibition is being held at the Montreal's Palais des congres, Espace 1001. The location offers a unique opportunity for visitors to views the works at a perfect distance proportional to their sizes, something that the Sistine Chapel does not offer, although, I am sure, many of us would have liked to also experience the original frescoes in their original setting in Vatican.

The Sistine Chapel's ceiling is 21 meters hight, not a comfortable distance to view the frescoes. Moreover, the experience in Montreal offers a leisurely visit in comparison to long waiting lines for the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.

Note the strong men-like arms that the female fresco personages have. It was a common practice at those times to only use male models in artists' studios. In addition, Michelangelo, being also a sculptor, perceived shapes as voluminous and textured. He deliberately intended to give his frescoes a sculptural effect with an illusion of three-dimensionality.

This exhibition offers a view into the Michelangelo's creative spirit, an understanding of his High Renaissance era and how he contributed to it, as well as tranquillity, relaxation and time for personal reflection by stepping temporarily away from the busy modern world. 

For more information, visit the exposition's website.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

The following professional photo was provided courtesy of the exhibition's organizers. It depicts the true size of the frescoes in proportion to a human body.

In case you cannot make it to the Montreal's show or the Sisiine Chapel, watch this YouTube video.

Read more on the exhibition in my subsequent post


Dirk Eisl said...

Here are the hard facts of the reproductions compared to the real Sistine Chapel frescos as Michelangelo painted them.
Enjoy! said...

…. I have seen the exhibit and, as an art expert, a number of statements from Mr. Biallas trouble me.
1. “This is how the paintings look. We didn’t change anything.”
The reproductions in Montreal have been clearly and massively photoshopped, some reduced in size, others enlarged on a scale 1:3, others cut and frames have been photoshopped around the cut scenes, in a way Michelangelo never painted them. Scenes have been cut to fit the scaffold frame so that the original meaning of the scene is completely lost (see: “The Brazen Serpent”.)
The reproductions are not even close to the original size, not “to the inch” as Mr. Biallas stated, the differences amounting to around 10ft between the reproductions and the originals. One of the consequences being that the ductus and the brush strokes of Michelangelo frescos (not “paintings”) have been enlarged accordingly, and they look now much thicker than the original.
2. “The book was filled with images by Austrian photographer Erich Lessing”. It is common knowledge among Michelangelo experts that Mr. Lessing did not take the photos of the Sistine Chapel after the restoration; Erich Lessing Archives are the distributor of some of the photos taken by Nippon TV.
3. “This is between us and the art historians who worked on this with us.”, There is an international community of Renaissance experts who tried to contact the exhibition "art historian", but so far the one mentioned in the press releases declared that she had nothing to do with the project. We would be really grateful if we could contact at least one of the experts who worked with your team.
Now legitimate questions arise:
- why so many untrue statements on points which are of common knowledge among experts?
- why promote this show as the real thing “to the inch” whereby it is clearly not true?
The logic answer is: because the target groups of this show are the people who can’t afford to fly to Rome and have not a fine art background, and these people are maybe easily fooled into buying a ticket to a show with the Hollywood promise that they will see the real thing whereby they will not.
I personally find this is a sad example of how Greed overcomes any respect for art and religion; and I strongly hope that now I won’t get a threat email from one of Mr. Biallas 25 attorneys for writing this.

Benjamin Novak said...

This exhibit is an example of how a technically good idea - to make works of art accessible to larger audiences - has turned out into a total failure.
First: the producer lied from the start creating fake quotes and endorsement from a German professor who does not exist.
Then Martin Biallas stated that the measures of the photos are the same as the originals “to the inch” and “we did not change anything”. There is ample evidence now that none of the photo has the same size as the originals in the Vatican. Some reproductions have been enlarged by a factor of 1:3, the Last Judgement is smaller than the original by one quarter. By enlarging the photos, the brush strokes have been enlarged so that it looks as Michelangelo had painted with a broom, not with a brush.
More lies: “all the photos are after the restoration”, not true: a large number of photos are dark and before the restoration.
Lies about the provenience of the photos: 2/3 of the photos are from the Archives of Erich Lessing, but were not taken by Erich Lessing, the provenience of the rest is unknown.
Moreover some photos have been photoshopped and frames have been included which Michelangelo never painted.
This exhibit has been put together in a hurry and without any fine art expert support or know-how ... and it shows.
In addition the exhibit is run in such an amateurish way which casts a doubt whether the producer has ever produced anything by himself.
The audio guides do not work, pieces of paper with the photos descriptions are taped to the metal frames. The prices in the shop are handwritten, the Vita of Michelangelo is glued to a yellow bed sheet badly folded. School projects are more professional than this exhibit.
The exhibit social media has been childish and ignorant. The PR has been deceitful and arrogant with statements such as: "Rome move over, Montreal is coming", or "not even the Popes have seen it so close".
This is a deceptive and deceitful exhibit, put together quickly to make a quick buck and with no knowledge of the subject matter nor any respect for the visitors who are expected to pay over 20$ to see it.
It is a failure because the world of art and the world of exhibitions are not for everybody and definitely not for amateurs, it is a failure because it has been criticized by some but mostly ignored by the majority of fine art experts and representatives of the Church.
It is a failure because it has not passed the mother of all the tests: the acceptance of the people of Montreal. Biallas announced his expectations to have 100'000 visitors, anyone who has visited the exhibit - like me - has counted only few visitors who ventured into seeing it.

Raelie AD said...

Great Exhibit! It's like we are in the Sistine Chapel, except we can see the art from much closer and in a less crowded space.

Sandrine A said...

What a great exhibit! I have never seen the real Sistine Chapel from Michelangelo. But I feel like I have now! The concept is very original and makes you feel like you entered in the Artist workshop and he is letting you peak at his work. It is simple and very well done.
If you haven't seen it already, go with your friends, or family or bring a date :)

AurélieAD said...

Quelle charmante exposition! Nous sommes tombés dessus un peu par hasard et on ne regrette pas du tout. L'expo est fluide et présentée de façon logique. De plus, les explications sont simples et nous ont appris plein de trucs sur les oeuvres et le peintre. N'ayant pas encore eu l'opportunité d'aller en Italie pour voir les originaux, c'est franchement une belle alternative. Merci :)

Sebastien said...

Fantastic exhibition of Michelangelo's work. I love Michelangelo and had the privilege to visit the Sistine Chapel, so I had to check this exhibition. And I wasn't disappointed. The production is brilliant, the pieces exhibited are amazing: it was almost like I was back in the chapel, except I was able to see the painting from much closer!
If you haven't gone yet, hurry there.

Anonymous said...

Je suis totalement tombé sous le charme de Michelangelo!!! Je connaissais peu ce peintre et son oeuvre, mais quand je suis ressortis de cette expo, je n'avais qu'une envie: m'acheter un billet d'avion pour l'Italie! Quelle belle source d'inspiration. En plus la production est super. En tout cas, c'est une fantastique expo que je recommande fortement aux petits comme aux grands.

Didier said...

Magnifique expo! On s'y croirait, c'est vraiment original et bien agencé. C'est une exposition de qualité, dont on voit que les moindre détails ont été pensé, pour donner l'impression d'être dans la véritable Chappelle.
Chapeau à toute l'équipe qui a monté cette belle production pour nos yeux et de permettre aux Montréalais la chance de voir cette exposition en premier!

À ne pas manquer!

Kori B. said...

I went to see the exhibit, recommended by a friend. I did not regret it at all. Between the scaffolds, the lightening and those beautiful photos, you almost feel like you are in the heart of the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo. Great concept, it is an exhibit like no other in the world and it's in Montreal!! It's going to take your breath away!

Laura said...

Stunning! Just stunning! The photos reproduction are beautiful, it looks like the real deal!

Marie & Benjamin said...

You need to go see Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in Montreal. We didn't know much about Michelangelo, but now we do and it made us want to know even more. The exhibition is amazing and so well put, it's almost like we are actually in the chapel. The pieces are beautiful and you can see so much details. It was very interesting and made us want to jump on a plane to Italy! You are in for a treat.

Anonymous said...

Est-ce qu'on est vraiment au palais des congrés de Montréal? It's almost like you are stepping in the Sistin Chapel in Vatican. It is amazing, grandiose! The exhibition is very realistic, the photos are beautiful.
I would like to thank everyone who has work on this exhibit, it is an admirable work you did and you can be proud! I was almost disappointing to leave and realize I was in Montreal and not in Italy.
Spread the word, come see the exhibition and admire the great work of this amazing artist Michelangelo. The frescoes are so realistic... The illusion is perfect!
If you haven't see it, you must go!

Victoria Langhirani said...

So sorry to see that a few people indeed were fooled into believing that they would see the real thing.
As an art expert, art lover but above all a lover of the TRUTH, I strongly recommend anyone to see the Rodin exhibit instead.
There you will see real works of art, fantastically curated, with professional guides who love to share their knowledge of Rodin and the art works.
The Sistine Chapel at the Palais, on the contrary, was an experiment which failed. Now the producers are stuck with panels which are worthless because they are completely wrong in size, colours and faithful reproduction!
The best example of this complete failure is the Last Judgment panel, which is 1/4 of the original, before the renovation, the candles of the altar have been photographed as well (!), and it hangs like a dirty shower curtain!
6 weeks into the exhibit, the producers are in panic and try to squeeze the max out of this disaster.

Nadia Slejskova said...

I don’t believe anybody was deceived when going to see this exhibition, regardless what the promoter might have stated incorrectly. All visitors knew this is not the real thing but a photo reproduction. Any photograph, even by the highest photo-professional, is not the real thing and has variations from the original in colour, image framing, and sometimes even the perspective. Each camera by different companies (or old style photographic paper or celluloid rolls) have their specific colour schemes variations. When several professional photographers take shots of the same subject, all achieve distinct and quite different results. Majority of them work further with their images before releasing them to the world, to make them as close as possible (how they understand it) to the original, if this is what is required. This is a common and acceptable practice. Even in traditional photography each photographer used a different exposure and different chemical solutions, as well as the length of time the prints were immersed in those solutions when developing their pictures.

All the images in the link Dirk Eisl provided do not correspond in colour or impact either to the real frescos or the reproductions at the exhibition. This is not a comparison between the real frescoes and the real photo images at the exhibition.

Majority of us value art books and we like to read them and look at the images. Those images are quite tiny in comparison to the real paintings, their colour is off, there are no impasto or brush strokes visible, yet we all get real pleasure from those pictures. To illustrate what I mean, goggle for images of some well known paintings. You will see how much they differ from each other. To conclude, art reproduction or book illustration is a valid practice in our society. People spent money to own such images in posters or art books.

Even if those Sistine Chapel images from the Montreal exhibition were installed at a stadium, 10 times the size of the original, it would still be a valid artistic experience, and a very impressive one. Michelangelo images are timeless, and their impact is not lost in any reproduction