The Agony and the Ecstasy

Have you read The Agony and the Ecstasy by Iriving Stone?  Here’s a quote from the book, (Michelangelo after being asked to create something uninspiring) “He needed work, not merely because of the money involved but because he was growing restless. It would put marble in his hands”.  While Michelangelo is very well known for his painting ability, working with marble was Michelangelo’s living breath, the thing that kept him alive everyday.

"David" by Michelangelo

"David" by Michelangelo

I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration and passion lately, the two fuels that drive great work.  But what about success?  Does passion and inspiration always lead to success?  Unfortunately not.  And when I say success I mean financial success, success through society’s eyes.  Please don’t judge.  I am by no means driven only by financial success, rather usually by passion, but with a family comes responsibility, meaning bills, and so I must let “financial success” channel my decisions, along side my passion and inspirations.

In The Agony and the Ecstasy, we read about how Michelangelo’s family, the Pope, and the Church stood as barriers to the artistic genius that Michelangelo was.  Often his passions and inspirations were set aside, or put on hold, as he was forced to respond instead to the demands that society was putting on him.  And while Michelangelo does respond, it takes him an entire life to learn the value in balancing these two powerful forces.

Being an artist is a balancing act, but it’s important to find that line and learn to walk it.   It might be a means to “putting marble in your hands.”  And so today I share with you some lessons I’ve learned from Michelangelo, along with links from other artists on the web as they talk about these same lessons…

I leave you with one final quote from The Agony and the Ecstasy , “Life has been good. God did not create me to abandon me. I have loved marble, yes, and paint too. I have loved architecture, and poetry too. I have loved my family and my friends. I have loved God, the forms of the earth and the heavens, and people too. I have loved life to the full, and now I love death as its natural termination. Il Magnifico would be happy: for me, the forces of destruction never overcame creativity.”

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2 observations on “The Agony and the Ecstasy
  1. Wendy Brightbill

    being an artist is a balancing act for sure! great post. thanks for the mention! i have learned that if i don’t follow my heart, then i really won’t be a very good mother and wife.

    1. Angela

      I couldn’t agree more! Have you heard of the documentary film, “Who Does She Think She Is?” It was the most moving documentary I’ve ever seen. Your interview over at Scoutie Girl reminded me of a discussion that we had after a screening of that movie with a group of woman artists.

      Side note, I wrote about that movie here if you want to follow a link to the documentary I mentioned… http://angelaflicker.com/2010/05/who-does-she-think-she-is/


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