Separation Of Light From Darkness

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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The Separation of Light from Darkness (1511) The Sistine ceiling depicts scenes from the Creation to the drunkenness of Noah, which forms the backdrop to the life of Moses and Christ.

Chronologically, The "˜Separation of light from darkness' is the first panel in the narrative scheme. It is seen last as if entering the Chapel through the lay entrance. Michelangelo chose to begin painting here and worked backwards towards the altar.

This fresco at the altar end of the ceiling on the vault of the ninth bay is truly Titanic and sublime in conception. The creation begins with the separation of light and Darkness where the gigantic image of God launching himself into infinite space with his arms raised, allowing spirals of light to sweep aside the darkness.

Composition: The central figure of God is framed by the four ignudi who draw the viewer's eye into the fresco. As our eyes enter the image from the lower right, we move across the powerful figure of God who stretches across the entire frame as he turns in space.

He holds darkness in one hand a light in the other. One of the moods that characterises the ceiling is struggle, where even God seems to turn and strain as he labours the forces of nature that he created. This part of the creation is especially significant for artists since all of the visual arts depend on the rendering of light. The composition is simple and rhythmical where the very energy of the image is constructed from the rhythm of alternating areas of light and darkness. God fills almost the entire panel as he reaches ahead and movement is created by the swirling colour about him. The vivid colours that Michelangelo used on the rest of the ceiling are remarkable, but here the...