Podcast by Jerome Whittingham, Photo: Solent News & Photo Agency.
Hull Minster is to host a must-see exhibition of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel masterpiece. The exhibition displays Michelangelo’s world-famous work up close for the first time, giving visitors unprecedented access to the artist’s magnificent paintings which adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
“Michelangelo – A Different View” is coming to Hull Minster from October 8 to November 18 – one of only two UK venues to host it – after touring major European cities, including Copenhagen, Prague and Amsterdam.
Officially licensed by the Vatican Museums, the stunning exhibition will allow visitors to view superb reproductions of the elaborate paintings of the Florentine master from a distance of only two metres, with no time constraints, meaning they will be able to appreciate fully their beauty and fine detail.
It will be the only opportunity for people across the North of England to see Michelangelo’s work, so it is expected to be hugely popular and draw visitors from far and wide.
Hull Minster has made the exhibition free to enter to enable as many people as possible to experience Michelangelo’s genius up close, but is asking visitors to show their appreciation by donating what they can to support the church’s vital work supporting some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
Bishop Frank White, Interim Minister of Hull Minster, said: “It’s a very great privilege for Hull Minster to host an exhibition of such celebrated artwork, which can usually only be viewed in Rome.
“It’s also wonderful that a building as ancient as the Minster is able to host an exhibition of paintings which hold a timeless and universal appeal. It represents a coming together of key expressions of Christian faith through art.
“Modern technology has enabled Michelangelo’s centuries-old masterpiece to be effectively transported hundreds of miles to be enjoyed here in Hull and we’re looking forward to welcoming thousands of people into the Minster for a very special experience.”
The concept for the exhibition came from producers Thomas Ebel and Christina Marotzke, of German company Exhibition 4 You (E4Y), who wanted to take the Sistine Chapel frescoes “down from the ceiling”.
They sought a way of making the magnificent artwork more accessible to the general public and received enthusiastic support from officials at the Vatican Museums to make their idea a reality.
To create the exhibition, the E4Y team and the Vatican Museums worked together to produce high resolution versions of photographs taken of the frescoes in the 1990s and transfer the images onto special fabric webs to create highly-detailed display panels. This technique allows a true-to-life reproduction of the paintings and gives visitors an otherwise impossible close-up view of Michelangelo’s brushwork.
By separating the paintings into a series of panels, the exhibition allows art lovers to study closely individual elements of the overall artwork and specific aspects of Michelangelo’s artistry.
It means that, for the first time, the elaborate reproductions allow visitors an intimate closeness to the magnificent frescoes of the Florentine genius – a privilege only a handful of people have enjoyed before the “A Different View” exhibition was created.
Previously, visitors to the Vatican Museums in Rome have only been offered an overall impression of the frescoes on the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The works are 22 metres above visitors’ heads, making it impossible to admire the work in all its splendour and detail.
Now, far away from the enormous streams of sightseers at the Sistine Chapel, visitors to Hull Minster will have the opportunity to take in the breathtaking paintings at their leisure.
Thomas Ebel said: “Our reproductions do more than justice to the original frescoes – not only in their size, but also in their surface texture. Visitors to the exhibition are stunned both by the beauty of the works and the almost tangible details.”
In 1508, Pope Julius II commissioned sculptor and painter Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni – known simply as Michelangelo – to paint the huge ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Michelangelo and his assistants spent four years on scaffolding under the vaulted ceiling creating his astounding Renaissance masterpiece. Faced by the challenge presented by the chapel’s architecture, he developed unique painting techniques, setting new standards for future generations of artists.
Michelangelo was originally commissioned only to paint the 12 apostles, but persuaded the Pope to let him depict scenes and individuals of his own choosing. Consequently, the chapel is peopled with more than 300 characters from the Bible.
The work was completed in 1512 and has been adored by artists across the world for more than 500 years as well as being admired by four million visitors each year to the Sistine Chapel.
The complex artwork includes the most famous painting of them all – the “Creation of Adam”, a depiction of God giving life to the first man – which forms part of the new exhibition. Another major attraction is a spectacular six metres square reproduction of Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgement”, which covers the whole of the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.
Securing the breath-taking exhibition is a major coup for Hull Minster, which has become an iconic, multi-use venue, community and cultural hub as a result of a transformational development project.
Hull Minster Events and Site Manager James Symonds said: “We’ve been looking for cultural events and exhibitions that will add to our growing arts offering and became aware of this exhibition.
“We approached the producers and they were really excited by the opportunity to stage the exhibition in a spectacular church setting. Michelangelo’s work is, after all, a religious masterpiece and at Hull Minster it will be seen in a church for the first time outside the Sistine Chapel itself.
“This exhibition builds on the legacy of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture and will enhance Hull’s growing reputation as a cultural and visitor destination.”
“A Different View” will be supported by an extensive programme of events and family-friendly activities to engage the public with the extraordinary work of art in the majestic setting of the 700-year-old church, with further details to be announced in due course.
The exhibition has just begun its UK preview in Winchester, Hampshire, where it is on show at three venues across the city until September 29, before arriving into Hull Minster for its October opening.
[John Meehan – Meehan Media & Comms]