Tag: Michelangelo

Who’s the Greatest Artist? The Story so Far


Blogging can be a tricky business at best, coming up with engaging content is not always easy. Sometimes you have to set yourself a challenge to get the juices flowing. Any regular readers of this blog will have noticed an irregular set of posts entitled Who’s the Greatest Artist? What I thought would be a quick summer series has now stretched out over two years. I hadn’t really appreciated the scope of the project when I started down this road, but I would have to say it being one of the most enjoyable to research and write. Close to 14 000 words later and here we are. As I approach writing the final four face-offs: Picasso vs Van Gogh and Da Vinci vs Michelangelo, I thought I would compile the story so far.

Who's the greatest artist

Here’s the one that started it all and explains the premise – Who’s the Greatest Artist?

picasso vs rembrandt

I didn’t want to make it easy on myself so I intentionally tried to create difficult match-ups – Picasso vs Rembrandt

goya vs rothko

I liked the idea of using the artist’s likenesses in the banner for each piece – Goya vs Rothko

dali vs warhol

In my mind the outcome of some match-ups were more obvious than others – Dali vs Warhol

Da Vinci vs Duchamp

I liked this one because it pits two very intellectual artists against one another – Da Vinci vs Duchamp

bacon vs basquiat

As I went along, it was increasingly enjoyable to find the parallels between the two – Bacon vs Basquiat

cezanne vs kandinsky

This may have been one of the more difficult one’s to decide – Cezanne vs Kandinsky 

Velazquez vs Van Goght

Sometimes the two artists couldn’t be more unalike if you tried –Velazquez vs Van Gogh

michelangelo vs matisse

This was a tough one because whoever got eliminated could easily have gone on to the top of the bracket –

Michelangelo vs Matisse

That was the first round, now I had the daunting task of writing about some of the same artists all over again but try to keep it fresh. In my mind I knew I had to pace myself and if I knew a particular artist might advance I had to keep some interesting information for later. Some pairings really helped to inform the direction the piece would take. Now on to the quarter-finals.

picasso vs warhol

I made sure I found pictures where they are both wearing their ‘trademark’ striped shirts – Warhol vs Picasso

bacon vs van gogh

This one was probably the most lopsided of the bunch – Bacon vs Van Gogh

da vinci vs goya

I had to eliminate one of my all time favourites, which is always a bit difficult – Da Vinci vs Goya

michelangelo vs cezanne

David and the Giant Peach – Michelangelo vs Cezanne

This brings us up to date and soon the semi-finals. At this point, I’m still not sure who is going to take this thing and that’s part of the enjoyment. I hope you have had a fraction of the amount of pleasure reading these things as I have had writing them.

W.T.G.A.: Michelangelo Vs Cézanne

michelangelo vs cezanneWhen the young Michelangelo approached his father with the news that he was planning on becoming an artist he was greeted with fists; his father was going to beat this preposterous notion out of him. Michelangelo took some time to reflect and then returned with the news that not only was he going to be an artist, but a sculptor no less. This time his uncle had the job of knocking some sense into the wayward youth. Michelangelo picked himself up, licked his wounds and went on to become one of the greatest artists of all time. Paul Cézanne didn’t fare much better than Michelangelo when it came to the patriarch of the family. Cézanne‘s father controlled the purse strings and his son with them. When Paul was implored to come to Paris by his childhood friend Émile Zola to experience the cultural revolution that was taking place, he was rebuffed three times by his father who refused to fund such frivolous endeavors. Cézanne eventually made it to the city of lights and found a surrogate father-figure in one of the founding members of Impressionism: Camille Pissaro. Cézanne would later go on and dismiss Impressionism as “silly” but Pissaro was instrumental in lifting Cézanne’s painting out the dark muck of his early work and setting him on the course to becoming the ‘father of modern art’. Both Michelangelo and Cézanne were strongly discouraged in pursuing a life in art, but both persevered and went on to make art history. Cézanne flattened space and changed painting forever and Michelangelo brought stone to life with a skill that hasn’t really been challenged in half a millennium, but who is the greater artist?

Madonna of the Stairs 1491

Madonna of the Stairs 1491

Michelangelo’s genius was evident from very early on. At the mere age of 16 he completed Madonna of the Stairs and never looked back. Many of the hallmarks of his later work are already present: dynamic figuration, the uncanny ability of transforming stone into flesh, the pursuit of ‘ the beautiful’ and his knack for creating a narrative that infuses spirituality with an underlining sense of humanity. Michelangelo’s figures seemingly interact with one another revealing histories and relationships that are easily relate-able. We’re initially drawn in by his skill but remain for his insight.

Girl at the Piano 1868

Girl at the Piano 1868

Cézanne‘s genius on the other hand took a while to develop. His early works were slathered with paint done in a very heavy handed manner with an extremely dark palette. Early in his career, he applied to have his work shown at the Paris Salon but was rejected. He was later publicly ridiculed by a Parisian newspaper of the time for what they perceived to be his lack of skill. This wouldn’t be the last time the public mocked and misunderstood his work. With some advise and guidance from Pissaro he slowly introduced brighter colours and the landscape into his paintings. He eventually showed with the Impressionists but even there he didn’t feel like he fit in. Over the course of his life Cézanne withdrew more and more from society preferring solitariness to interacting with other people: including his family. Near the end of his life a retrospective of his work was staged in Paris and hailed as a triumph. Cézanne viewed this event as too little too late, and didn’t bother showing up for the exhibition. Cézanne was a difficult man who valued art over all else.

Tomb of Lorenzo de Medici 1520-1534

Tomb of Lorenzo de Medici 1520-1534

Michelangelo was also a notoriously difficult individual. His artistic vision had him dueling with Popes and head’s of states alike. He had one way of doing things – his way. Sometimes his ambition outweighed what was physically possible. His original plan for the Medici chapel was to include 6 tombs. Only two were completed and he personally didn’t see to their installation. Michelangelo‘s skills were in constant demand so his time was never his own. His patrons were always asking him to perform feats that were beyond his experience. They assumed that because he was such a gifted sculptor he could naturally paint or design architecture. Michelangelo would rage and refuse but eventually concede to their wishes and then  go on to create something extraordinary.

Apples, Peaches, Pears and Grapes 1879-80

Apples, Peaches, Pears and Grapes 1879-80

Extraordinary would also be the word to describe Cézanne‘s still-lifes. As great as his Card Players, landscapes and to a lesser degree his bathers and portraits are; it’s his still-lifes that steal the show. What at first appear to be loose spontaneous flourishes are actually meticulous set pieces that in some cases took months to execute. Fruit would notoriously rot in place while Cézanne slowly brought them back to life with exquisite colour and confident brushstrokes. Long gone are the thick swabs of paint, sometimes he would even leave areas untouched allowing the bare canvas to show through. He played with perspective tilting objects towards the viewer so they could get a better look. Those innovations opened up the flood gates of experimentation and artistic freedom for every artist that came after him. Without Cézanne we wouldn’t have Picasso.

detail of Sistine Chapel 1508-1512

detail of Sistine Chapel 1508-1512

But how can bowls of fruit compete with the Sistine Chapel? Both demonstrate artist as innovator. Both redefined working methods and creative solutions. Cézanne had come so far from his early paintings and his growth as an artist is astonishing. To stand in front of a Cézanne still-life is not unlike a religious experience, but Michelangelo‘s genius presented itself early and never faltered. I believe Cézanne himself would concede to the Renaissance man. Early in his career, during his first trip to Paris; Cézanne would visit the Louvre on a daily basis where he would sketch from the collection. He was enamored with Delacroix Courbet and unsurprisingly Michelangelo.

Winner: Michelangelo

Related: Michelangelo vs Matisse

Cezanne vs Kandinsky

Who’s the greatest artist?

Michelangelo and Alex Colville at the AGO

Michelangelo Studies for the head of Leda 1630

Michelangelo Studies for the head of Leda 1530

The work of Michelangelo doesn’t like to get out much. There are a few exceptions: France won the lottery  with the acquisition of his Slaves that now reside at the Louvre and even The National Gallery in London has a few unfinished paintings, but the majority of his work hasn’t left Italy. Its keepers tend to keep it close to home. There are no major works of his in North America, even the great Met in New York only has a scant few sketches. So I have to admit I got a little excited when I heard that the Art Gallery of Ontario was going to have a show of his drawings; the Casa Buornarroti in Florence had graciously lent the people of Toronto 29 of their drawings from Michelangelo’s personal holdings.

Michelangelo Nude from the Back 1505

Michelangelo Nude from the Back 1505

The curators of the exhibition had the misguided task of taking a little and trying to turn it into a lot. The mistake they made was: they had a lot and they turned it in to a little. They tried to fill the plate by adding artworks that represented his influence on other artists specifically the work of Auguste Rodin. No disrespect to the Frenchman but, when Michelangelo’s name is on the marquee, nothing else matters. The exhibit needed to focus, be more intimate and let the drawings speak for themselves. Michelangelo famously took a museum’s worth of drawings and set them ablaze near the end of his life, so to say they are rare is an understatement and to have them on our doorstep is a privilege. Having said all that- Studies for the Head of Leda is worth the trip alone.

Seven Crows 1980

Alex Colville Seven Crows 1980

Along with Michelangelo, the AGO has a major retrospective of one of Canada’s most revered artists Alex Colville (1920-2013) on at the moment. All the greatest hits are here and it’s a must see. Colville is a master of atmosphere; he can take the mundane and turn it into mystery and intrigue. Sometimes his figures float in their backgrounds casting no shadows like ghosts, and sometimes they stare out of the picture plane directly confronting the viewer.  He routinely and deliberately obscures the focal point by turning the protagonist away from us or putting something directly in front them. He has a way of capturing the exact moment between banality and conflict with the precision of a master storyteller.

Soldier and Girl at Station  1953

Soldier and Girl at Station 1953

Alex Colville started his artistic career as an artist for the Canadian Armed Forces. He used his brush to document the reality of war, sometimes with horrifying affect. He had the devastating job of chronicling the nightmare that was Auschwitz.  After the war he returned to Canada and became an instructor at Mount Allison University in Nova Scotia. He taught into the 1960’s and then focused his full attention to painting for the remainder of his years.

Dog and Priest 1978

Dog and Priest 1978

I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years back. I was taking a group of school children to see an exhibition of his at the Art Gallery of London in London Ontario. We had arrived early and we were making our way through the show. We turned the corner and found a lone solitary man sitting in one of the galleries. I couldn’t believe my eyes: it was Alex Colville. He was gracious enough to talk to us and I shook his hand. One of the students asked him if that was his dog in one of the paintings and he smiled and said “Yes it was.” Alex Colville had an intimate relationship with everything in his works. His wife figures prominently, along with his children, pets and surroundings.

Skater 1964

Skater 1964

The survey of his work is tremendous, but just like the Michelangelo show the curators felt the need to add a little more: this time in the guise of pop culture references to his work. They were trying to make the weak argument that somehow Colville’s work influenced scenes from films by Wes Anderson, The Coen Brothers and Stanley Kubrick. Colville’s paintings do in fact appear in The Shining, but the other two are a stretch at best. For a show this strong, it was an unneeded add on.

Couple on Beach 1957

Couple on Beach 1957

Dear AGO, you’re putting together a great schedule and the number of wonderful shows in recent years has been inspiring, but for the future: could you drop the up-sell and just let the work speak for itself.

Slashed, Smashed and Blowed-Up: Blowed-Up Real Good

Cleveland Thinker

In the dead of the night on March 24th 1970; one of Art history’s most iconic ambassador’s was rocked from its pedestal. Someone had placed a bomb at the feet of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, forever mangling the great work. It kind of makes you wonder, exactly what was the point of that? What did Rodin do to anyone? Was his work causing too many people to stop and contemplate life and all its intricacies? Can’t have that, better blow it up- blow it up real good. The popular theory for this particular crime was it was done in protest of the war in Vietnam, possibly by members of the Weather Underground. No one was ever charged. The reasons why people attack great works of art are as varied and complex as the works themselves.

A combo photo shows a detail view of the damaged Michelangelo's Pieta and it after restoration works at the Vatican

Michelangelo’s Pieta after being attacked

One theory is that (in Italy anyway) they may have an ailment known as Stendhal Syndrome or ‘Tourist’s Disease’; where people become so overwhelmed in the presence of great art  they can go temporarily mad. The immediate experience of being surrounded by such beauty is too much to handle for some viewers. Art can have a profound effect and cause people to do erratic things but most people don’t walk around carrying bombs or the odd geologist’s hammer. These are obviously preordained acts of violence. On May 21st 1972 an Australian geologist named Laszlo Toth jumped a barrier in St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome and left Michelangelo’s Pieta missing an arm and the tip of the Virgin Mary’s nose along with other damaging blows. He was immediately apprehended and ended up spending two years in a hospital before being deported. He was never officially charged with a crime. The act itself was greeted with a myriad of reactions ranging from horror to applause. Art restorers masterfully put the Virgin back together again and most tourists are none the wiser.

Velasquez's Rokeby Venus after it was slashed with a meat clever

Velasquez’s Rokeby Venus after it was slashed with a meat clever

Restorers had their hands full after Mary Richardson a radical suffragette walked into the National Gallery in London on March 10th 1914 with a meat clever and left 7 large slashes in the Velasquez. The local media of the time treated it like an attempted homicide. Richardson wanted to protest the arrest of a fellow suffragette along with make a critical comment on the male gaze regarding the sexualization of women in western art. Richardson spent 6 months in jail.

A restorer looks at the damage of the Nightwatch

The museum director looks at the damage of the Nightwatch

William de Rijk had no great agenda when on September 14th 1975 he attacked Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Nightwatch with a kitchen knife. Apparently he had been denied entry the day before because he had arrived after museum hours. This sounds like a case of extreme museum rage, that and the logic of a mentally unwell individual. Along with Mr. Toth, he mentioned God as a mitigating factor to his actions.

The reasons why people attack art can range anywhere from mental breakdowns to political protests to plain old attention seeking. In recent years we’ve had people graffiti on Picassos, vomit on Mondrians and smash Ai Wei Weis for nothing more than a ‘look at me’ moment. The worst part about those indiscretions are the perpetrators are trying to label the vandalism as art.  Any half baked idea will always produce the poorest of results and if you’re that desperate for attention, use instagram and twitter like everybody else.

W.T.G.A.: Michelangelo vs Matisse

michelangelo vs matisse

One was a master of stone, the other a master of colour. Both lived well into their eighties and both were  considered to be the greatest living artist in their lifetimes. Their chief rivals were Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso respectively.  Michelangelo Buonarroti was asked by the pope to put down his chisel and pick up a paint brush (against his will) and Henri Matisse was forced (by illness) to put down his paint brush and pick up a pair of scissors. They both rose to the new challenge and  left behind some of the greatest artwork the world has ever known. Their masterpieces are nothing short of iconic, but who is the greater artist?

 Matisse  The Red Studio 1911

Matisse The Red Studio 1911

For me, Matisse’s Red Studio is one of the greatest paintings painted by anybody everIt hangs in New York’s Museum of Modern Art beside another one of his great works The Piano Lesson.  It simultaneously shows space and negates it at the same time. It is mischievously simple and all together complex. The drawing is sumptuous and the use of colour totally avant garde. The abstract expressionist Mark Rothko was completely put under its spell, influencing countless of his own works. It draws you in with its joyous objects, sculptures and paintings scattered around the room, but it also keeps you out by its flat use of red reminding us that this is a place of serious work. Matisse rewrote the book on painting.

Michelangelo Doni Tondo 1504-1506

Michelangelo  Doni Tondo 1504-1506

It is hard to believe after looking at a picture like Doni Tondo or The Holy Family by Michelangelo, that he didn’t consider himself a painter. His handling of value and composition are nothing short of masterful. His figures feel as though they could take a breath, (although somehow the female form completely alluded him). He is a grand storyteller conveying deep emotions with a simple tilt of the head or the direction of the gaze. We follow those eyes because we believe those eyes. These figures seem real but at the same time other worldly. Michelangelo tests our faith and asks to believe.

Doni Tondo detail

Doni Tondo detail

Matisse also asks us to believe. We can see the reflection of a goldfish on the surface of water with a single orange brushstroke. He has condensed our senses to a dash of pure colour and nudged our perception to a flawless execution. We are rendered children in their presence.

Matisse The Goldfish 1910

Matisse The Goldfish 1910

Matisse is renown for his use of colour. He liked to use large swatches of pure colour. He believed in the axiom  ‘a kilogram of green is greener than half kilogram of green’. He also offsets his colours with both black and white, which creates great contrast as well as balances the palette. In Goldfish Matisse applies the paint loose and transparent with no real consideration for actual space preferring rhythm and pattern.

Michelangelo unfinished slave 1505

Michelangelo unfinished slave 1505

Michelangelo believed every piece of stone contained a sculpture waiting to be freed. You can see this process in his series of unfinished slaves. 5 centuries later we are fortunate that timing and dwindling funds forced Michelangelo to abandon his plans and work for the tomb of Pope Julius. The original plan called for 30 slaves in total with only two ever being completed and another 4 partially started. They illustrate the act of creation and serve as a masterclass for sculptors everywhere.

Matisse The Knife Thrower 1947

Matisse The Knife Thrower 1947

Throughout his career Matisse slowly reduced his figures to shape and flat colour. He eliminated the detail and emphasized the gesture. His cut-outs were the perfect culmination of this and for me some of his strongest work. Many artists peak  young and spend the rest of their lives imitating themselves, never again being able to recapture that younger vitality. Matisse is one of those rare individuals who was prolific throughout his career. Made near the end of his life with scissors and sheets of painted paper, the cut-outs are simply exquisite.

Michelangelo Moses 1513 - 1515

Michelangelo   Moses 1513 – 1515

As the story goes:  after Michelangelo completed Moses, he slapped him on the knee and commanded him to speak. It is true that stone was transformed by his chisel into something more. We are so humbled by their presence, that it is almost unfathomable that a person could actually create them. We are in such awe of his talent, we have trouble taking in the work. Embarrassing as this is; it was years before I noticed the horns on top of Moses‘s head. I was too busy marveling at his hands, his feet, his expression, the drapery and so on.

Matisse The Beasts of the Sea 1950

Matisse The Beasts of the Sea 1950

As much as I love Matisse and I love Matisse, he’s no match for the Italian. The work of Michelangelo is so impressive,  you can’t do anything but stop and take notice of it. I didn’t even mention David or The Sistine Chapel, but don’t worry their time will come.

Winner: Michelangelo

We have now come to the end of the first 8 match-ups and the winners are poised to face off in the next round. So far, the bracket looks like this:


Who’s the Greatest Artist?


An impossible question to answer, a very controversial proposal, a polarizing proposition, a can of worms wrapped in a barrel of monkeys, but why not throw it against the wall to see if it sticks.

Here ladies and gentlemen for your contemplation is the bracket and its combatants. (If you are offended by the premise of pitting our artistic maestros against one another, let me remind you that when it comes to competition; the arena of art is essentially the Colosseum.) Just like the ancient Romans who would throw any two things together to see who would win: bears vs lions, giraffes vs tigers etc, I have assembled a who’s who of radically different styles.

Choosing the artists was a very daunting task. There are some no-brainers along with a few perhaps surprises. I can already hear the criticisms: “How can you include Basquiat and not include Ruebens?” When mining the entirety of art history:  the artists I did not include breaks my heart. People that almost made the cut: Titian, Giotto, Vermeer, Mondrian, Joseph Beuys, Caravaggio  Artemisia Gentileschi, Bridget Riley, Miro and on and on. You’ll notice that the bracket rests heavily on the dead white man western side of things. This aspect I do regret, but I feel history has conspired against us in this regard. We are slowly making amends for this in the twenty first century by broadening our millennial-long narrow mindedness and finally becoming more inclusionary. You will also notice that no living or contemporary artists made the show. I believe time is the greatest critic of art and we haven’t gotten back far enough to see their whole picture yet.

The artists I did choose I believe most people would concede their place here among some of the greatest of all time. (I realize there is noway to satisfy everyone.) I did try to put together some unlikely and highly contested match-ups. It’s really hard to find sparing partners for Da Vinci and Michelangelo; Renoir’s cute flower girls would be no match.

But how to ascertain who is the superior artist, there must be parameters. The artists will be judged on: historical significance, masterpieces, innovation and influence, technique and overall impact.  Over the course of the summer I’ll be weighing the titans of art against one another in a series of posts to eventually crown a winner. Any and all suggestions are welcome in the comments.

This idea was formulated by looking at the search terms on my WordPress dashboard. Last year about this time, I wrote a review comparing the Picasso show at the AGO with the National Gallery’s Van Gogh exhibit. I entitled the piece Van Gogh Vs Picasso, and it was meant to compare the two shows, not the two artists. Over the past year I have noticed quite a few search queries that read Who’s better Van Gogh or Picasso? It is like people out there are asking the great genie that is the internet to tell them who is the greatest artist of them all…..I’m no genie but I know a fun challenge when I see one.


  Related posts:

W.T.G.A.: Picasso vs Rembrandt

W.T.G.A.: Goya vs Rothko

W.T.G.A.: Dali vs Warhol

W.T.G.A.: Da Vinci vs Duchamp

W.T.G.A.: Bacon vs Basquiat

W.T.G.A.: Cezanne vs Kandinsky

W.T.G.A.: Velazquez vs Van Gogh

W.T.G.A.: Michelangelo vs Matisse

Paradigm Shift

A few years back I participated in a 2 day outdoor art-fair in downtown Toronto. (One of the great things about Toronto is that it has a number of wonderful opportunities for artists to get their work out there.)   The fair comprised of a few hundred tents set up in a west end park with every manner of art available. The park itself was riddled with hipsters drinking organic coffee, admiring each others skinny jeans and mustaches; occasionally taking the time to check out some art. To be fair, the fair attracts all sorts of people from all over the city; families taking a stroll, serious art lovers, local celebrities and the odd politician (my wife had the late Jack Layton come to her tent – as I said, it was a few years ago). The weather was perfect all weekend long and the mood was sunny.

Near the end of the first day, I decided to take a break from the tent itself and positioned myself across the aisle on a park bench. I was close enough to make myself helpful if needed but out of sight for people walking by. Sometimes an empty tent is more inviting than an occupied one at these type of things. The multiple art-fair strategies that people employ, can totally  make your head spin. You get the Walmart greeter, the aloof artist, artist in action, the art-fair pro and the newbie amongst others. I myself fall into the smile and nod category. As I was enjoying the sun on my face, I noticed two men checking out my paintings; engaged in what seemed like a lively conversation. It slowly dawned on me that these men looked very familiar. To my utter surprise, I was looking at both of my former high school art teachers that I hadn’t laid eyes on in nearly two decades!

David Michelangelo 1504

You never forget your high school art teacher(s). Every school seems to have an eccentric individual or individuals that are passionately conveying the virtues of creativity and expression. These guys were no exception. For most artists, high school is the place where you begin to develop your early attitudes towards art, later on in university they may try to indoctrinate you into their way of thinking and then after that you have to unlearn everything you’ve been told. In high school most Art development usually starts in the realm of photo realism. The teenage mind is obsessed with making something look exactly like what they think it’s supposed to look like. This is what constitutes what can be considered ‘good art’.  A lot of adults still carry that preconception of art; which can eventually lead to “my kid could do that” comments when presented with anything that doesn’t fit this particular paradigm. An early love for Art is usually accompanied with an early appreciation for the great masters. There is no denying the genius of Leonardo or Michelangelo and as a kid these are the first few household artists’ names you become familiar with.

El Jaleo John Singer Sargent 1882

As a kid learning to draw, I was influenced by comics and the art books found around my parents’ house. I spent hours pouring over the the paintings of the Sistine Chapel or the portraits of John Singer Sargent. I was enraptured by their technique but the content and expression were lost on me. Up until high school, the only art history we were taught was the Group of Seven. At the start of high school Picasso and Van Gogh interested me but I still wanted to draw like Robert Bateman Throughout high school, the two men who took turns teaching our art class showed us countless examples of what art could be and then in grade 11 it happened.

 Mr. B. was teaching us mold-making and he brought in a piece that he had made; a giant roll of Lifesavers. I had never experienced anything like it. We were all blown away. He had made a clay version, then made a mold and then made various coloured versions using dyed resin. These were little familiar candies blown up to the size of dinner plates. This was Alice in Wonderland, this was Pop. In that moment, my paradigm shifted – Art could be pop culture, Dadist, expressionistic and most importantly fun. It was like entering a whole new world and the depth of my appreciation was multiplied incalculably.

Once I recognized who was in my tent I made a B-line to greet them. We had a warm reunion sharing our lives over the past years since we had last seen each other. They were on their way to dinner and had planned to check out the fair before hand. The fact they had happened upon my booth was a complete fluke. Mr. B. had retired from teaching years ago and Mr. W. was getting close. I told Mr. B. what an impression the Lifesavers had made on me and inquired if he still had them. He figured they were in a box somewhere in his apartment and said he was willing to part with them. We made arrangements for me to pick them up and true to his word they were tucked away in a box in the corner of his studio. I’ve seen them both since and am looking forward to Mr. W.’s retirement party.

The Lifesavers currently sit atop my bookshelf, reminding me of the day my whole world shifted.

Ceiling Unlimited

La Sagrada Família

The unfinished majesty of Gaudi’s Cathedral in the heart of Barcelona is a hot bed of controversy. The construction continues long after the original plans were burned in 1938, during pro-Franco protests. Purists are horrified by the guess work while enthusiasts are thrilled with the progress. The exterior suffers from a form of multiple personality disorder while the interior feels unworldly. Light fills the space and the ceiling resembles a mad burst of crystal like  stars unfolding  ad infinitum onto themselves. Your neck will crane and your eyes will pop.

Libyan Sybil    The Sistine Chapel

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is unparalleled in the history of art. The frescoes executed by a man who was mostly known for his sculpture, enrapture all that step foot into their presence. Michelangelo’s genius can not be understated. He designed his own scaffold, painted above his head the whole time, compensated for the the distorted perspective of painting on a vaulted surface as seen from 80 feet away and in the process changed the history of painting. For all his genius; the female figure kind of eluded him.

Great Mosque of Cordoba

A building so beautiful; it is impossible to capture in a photograph. Within its endless red and white striped pillars lies a church: a cathedral wrapped within a Mosque. A definite must see.


The dome of this ancient Roman temple opens itself up to the sky. A single massive spotlight pours into the Pantheon, along with the rain when the weather turns. Raphael: the boy wonder of the Renaissance’s final resting place.

The Scrovegni Chapel

The ceiling of the Scrovegni Chapel could be considered Giotto‘s version of The Starry Night only painted nearly 600 years previously. The visits are timed so there isn’t a chance to linger but the impression it makes will last a lifetime.