Friday, September 28, 2018

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Tacoma

A once in a lifetime opportunity
By Alec Clayton
installation view of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel at the Tacoma Armory, photo by Gabi Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 27, 2018
The Broadway Center presents Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in the Tacoma Armory. The late Renaissance master’s famous fresco on the Sistine ceiling and its accompanying “Last Judgement” painting on the back wall of the chapel have been photographically reproduced at the original size on special fabric that mimics the look and texture of the original frescos and can now be seen at Tacoma’s Armory.
The reproductions are mounted on large panels and suspended from the ceiling of the Armory. Nine of the panels, including the famous image of God touching the hand of Adam in the clouds, hang overhead on panels that are 18.8 x 15 feet. Ten 12.4 x 9-foot panels are hung on each side, and at the back are a group of panels, the largest of which is 12.4 by 19 feet. Like the original in Vatican City, the size and complexity are overwhelming. And there’s more. Hanging approximately 20 feet in front of the back wall is a somewhat smaller than original reproduction of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement,” the powerful depiction of people being judged at the end of time and either sent up to heaven or cast down into hell.
The ceiling fresco tells the story of the creation of the heavens and earth; this is followed by the creation of Adam and Eve and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden; and finally, the story of Noah and the flood.
It took Michelangelo four years to complete the ceiling painting, 1508 to 1512. “The Last Judgement” was not painted until 25 years later. Originally its nearly 300 figures were naked, but at some point the Vatican had clothing added. Over the years, the frescos faded and cracked, and between 1980 and 1994 they were restored (it took a team of restorers 10 years longer to restore it than it took the single artist to paint it). On the back of the “Last Judgement” in the Armory hangs a reproduction of the fresco as it looked before the restoration.
At the Tacoma Armory, viewers can see the paintings from up close, and there is signage explaining what each of the images are and giving insight into the history of the chapel and of the artist, including Michelangelo’s clashes with Pope Julius II.
The exhibition will be in Tacoma for only three weeks. Admission is limited to 1.5 hours with specified admission times: Sat.-Sun. noon–1:30 p.m., 1:45–3:15 p.m., 3:30–5 p.m., 5:15–6:45 p.m., 7–8:30 p.m., Wed.-Fri., 1–2:30 p.m., 2:45–4:15 p.m., 4:30-6 p.m., and 6–7:45 p.m.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, through Oct. 14, $12-$24, admission is for 1.5 hours, Tacoma Armory, 1001 S. Yakima Ave., Tacoma

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