Beyond NY: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Frescoes Up Close in Paramus, NJ

Beyond NY: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Frescoes Up Close in Paramus, NJ

View the pictures of Sistine Chapel frescoes at the ground level at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ

Up Close: Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo Paramus, NJ
Sistine Chapel, Vatican / photo by Patrick Landy (FSU Guy)

Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of Sistine Chapel in Vatican City are conveniently brought down to earth by the very modern means of digital photography. The show will go on display at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ after an exhibition in July at the Oculus of NYC World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The visitors have the ease of enlarged images to see all the details of historical paintings to follow the Creation story from the Book of Genesis at the spacious and well-lit hall housing the freestanding plinths with good labels . No hurrying up by the guards and neck craning necessary.

Sistine Chapel in Vatican was built in 1477-1480 by Pope Sixtus IV for whom the chapel is named. The Chapel is used for special ceremonies of the close circle of the Pope. It is also a place were the Papal Conclave of Cardinals meets to elect a new Pope. Interestingly the dimensions of the Chapel are the same as those of the Temple of Solomon as described in the Old Testament, the Book of Ezekiel, the first temple built by the Hebrews in 832 BCE under King Solomon, and destructed by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE.

Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Chapel from 1508 to 1512 on a commission by Pope Julius II. Because at the time Michelangelo was preoccupied with sculptures and was reluctant to commit to such an enormous undertaking, Pope Julius granted him full freedom in selecting the scenes and figures to paint thus convincing him to take on the project. The resulting frescoes are considered to be the triumph of the artistic expression in Western civilization.  The ceiling is populated with more than 300 figures starting from the Christ ancestors including Adam and Eve, the scenes from the Garden of Eden and the Great Flood all the way to Christ followers, prophets and sibyls. Its a rich story with the myriad of secrets as explained in a well-written book by B. Blech and R. Doliner The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican.

Michelangelo’s mastery brings us the “faces of our time: anxiety masked by domesticity, women at work at household duties, men staring out blankly at an opaque fate” in the words of A.Gopnik in The New Yorker review of the exhibition.

Now that the viewers can comfortably see those faces and their expressions, the connection to the history and its meaning can be better understood and appreciated.

After staying in NJ till October 15, 2017, the exhibition will travel around the US. Check all the locations and dates here.

Venue: Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, NJ       Dates: September 1 – October 15, 2017

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