Tuesday, June 7

Michelangelo's contrast of colors revealed

The site WebExhibits is dedicated to the study of colors in a very easy and stimulating way. This is the way they explained how Michelangelo exaggerated the contrasts of color:

"Just a few years after Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) achieved tonal unity, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) tried a different approach. His colors are brilliant and contrasted, whereas da Vinci’s are subdued and unified. Michelangelo’s contours are crisp and set off against a contrasting background, whereas da Vinci’s blend and avoid silhouette.
Doni Holy Family, Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1503.

Michelangelo mixes his colors with both black and white to maximize the contrast range for all the colors he uses. This means the lighter parts of each color (even the black of Joseph’s tunic) are almost white and unrealistically de-saturated."
The only color that has a high enough luminance in pure form is the yellow of Joseph’s cloak; Michelangelo does not have to de-saturate the yellow to get a high value. Therefore, the yellow robe has a different quality from all the others, the hues of which vary substantially in saturation and therefore look somewhat metallic. By using such a wide range of luminances, Michelangelo achieves vivid depth from shading. Still, both contemporaries and present day critics were surprised by his use of color. Why?
Michelangelo was the undisputed master of drawing in 16th century Italy. The cleaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the Doni Tondo have revealed him to be a colorist of great originality, working with a fully-saturated palette.
Keep reading here. Browse the site if you're interested in studying colors. They have interactive tools.


Missy said...

He was a great painter indeed!


Ana said...

Yes! Everything about him is so big!

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Ken Foster said...

Very Interesting. I have "favorited" that website and look forward to exploring it more later. Thanks Ana!

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Thank you!
I favorited it too.