“A muscular youth,
with thick curling hair falling over the nape of his neck…
His brows are knit,
his eyes are watchful,
the youthful body stands in absolute composure, conscious of its own strength…
Here Michelangelo stated once and for all, in a manner he would never surpass, the ideal inhabitant of the visionary earth.” –The World of Art, Robert Payne
Our family traveled to Europe last week. A whirlwind tour through Germany, Italy, and England. Mommy’s one requirement in Florence? To visit The Accademia Gallery and see The David.
The “most beautiful contours of legs” some have said.
“Attachments of limbs and slender outlines of flanks that are divine,” others remarked.
“Whoever has seen this work need not trouble to see any other work executed in sculpture, either in our own or in other times, by no matter what craftsman.” (Vasari on David)
“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”—Michelangelo
I just chipped away everything that wasn’t David. – Michaelangelo
That’s what got me. Everything that wasn’t David. Everything that wasn’t.
Just down the hall from David is everything that wasn’t:
Everything that wasn’t David defended the corridor. Everything that wasn’t complete preambled the passage to the one who was complete – Michelangelo’s masterpieces in the making.
“Hey Mom look, he’s a blockhead!” my son remarked of one such sample. Everything that wasn’t yet, “perfect in attitude and action,” remained attached to the beginnings of brawny legs and strapping limbs. The large block of marble atop his crude shoulder wasn’t yet perfected, and yet it was clearly the making of a man, the making of a work of art.
And isn’t that just like this life? We are the making of men and women. We have the beginnings of a well-built body and refined extremities. We are recognizable as human form, yet we remain unfinished. The Master Artist has yet to reveal the lovely apparition to other eyes as He sees it. He has yet to chip away everything that isn’t meant to be. Yet to strip off everything that isn’t the ideal inhabitant of heaven. Yet to perfect His masterpiece.
Strangely enough, despite the blockhead look my son found so appealing, these unfinished works still screamed, “I am a Michelangelo!” They were clearly touched by a master’s hands. His fingerprints encased them. His signature design defined them. He had only to hew away the rough walls that imprisoned them and they would be lovely.
So why can’t I remember that, despite being wrought with imperfections, my God did not pitch his instruments, stomp His feet, nor proclaim my incompetence as an artist’s medium? I have been been marked by the Master’s Hands. His fingerprints coat me. His signature design distinguishes me. He has only to hew away the rough walls that imprison me and I will be lovely! This unfinished work of art still screams, “I am the Lord’s!”
And I’m on display in His Hall of Unfinished Works. I’m a defender of His corridor. I’m a preamble to The One who is complete. I’m a masterpiece in the making. I am His David. For…
The true work of art is but a shadow of divine perfection. – Michelangelo
Might I Pray for Us?
Dear Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, the Master Artists and The One Who is Complete, we stand in awe of you. You unite Beauty and Truth. You reveal divine perfection through the yet dim reflections of earthly magnificence. Help us remain at your helm. Available to the chipping away of everything that isn’t as You envision. Help us to stand tall in this Hall of Unfinished Works, because by Your hand, we can be known not as incomplete blockheads, but the making of a work of art – Your Masterpiece. Amen.