The past couple weeks I've been re-reading one of my favourite books, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, which is a wonderful daily account of the four painstaking years Michelangelo spent painting the Sistine Chapel. At the same time I just happened to be setting up an Instagram account to provide updates of some of the art I've been working on, to share with family and friends.
That is when it hit me: what if Michelangelo had an Instagram account or was on Twitter? How weird would that be?
Perhaps not that weird. One of the things I really enjoy about Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling is its portrayal of this genius as a flesh-and-blood person. We get to see the daily life of a real human being, as opposed to some mythic figure, creating one of the greatest works of art in the history of human society.
Let's face it, Michelangelo was not exactly a social butterfly. Solitary and melancholy are probably good words to describe him, perhaps even chronically grumpy! If alive today he most likely would despise social media. Michelangelo did however have his gripes, and he was obsessed with documenting the minutiae of his daily life --
groceries, art supply purchases, etc. It is not entirely improbable to think he
might have enjoyed the exacting nature of daily posts, as well as the opportunity to 'air his complaints and grievances' about the people who got on his nerves!
Plus, even though it was the 1500s, artists of his stature did have their audience. Not Frida Kahlo or Pablo Picasso level fame. But the Renaissance was the birth of the artist as rock star. So as I read Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling I kept hearing in my mind's ear the Twitter posts he might have shared:
More important, I could see the incredible images he would share on Instagram! This, more than anything, would draw me into his account.
What's my point?
Perhaps my imagination has gotten the best of me, and maybe the Twitter posts would be a bit much (LOL!), but life is tough. Art brings us joy, it makes us think, it gives us permission to feel, to be inspired, to realise why this whole mortal coil thing is worth it, and why life is so precious and wonderful. Genius like Michelangelo only happens every now and then. Most of us will never get to see the art in person. To have a front row seat to its unfolding, even if only on social media, would be a real joy.