April 18, 2005

Scholar claims Michelangelo faked the Laocoön statue Lynn Catterson from Colombia University, says that the sculpture of Laocoön, a character from the Iliad, found in 1506, was not created by the ancient Greeks but by wily Mikey. Michelangelo was on site when the sculpture was found and was the person who authenticated it. He also faked other stuff. Fire up the DeLorean, Doc, we're sending the Capuchin SWAT team back with handcuffs for this evil artist.

He must be stopped before he sculpts more muscly, huge-handed men with tiny penises.

  • i've only seen a copy of it, and despite my unsound state to consider it: i not only find it feasible but somewhat delightful. It stands out amongst works of the same age and if it was of his early work-- --i'm hoping she proves true for reasons of my own
  • Some of the evidence she put forward according to a comment here is rather cunning:
    Why, for instance, is there a drawing of Laocoön's head on the wall in the basement of Michelangelo's San Lorenzo workshop, a space otherwise filled with drawings by students emulating work that has been historically identified as being Michelangelo's? Another tidbit I found interesting: the problem of stability in the Rome Pietá (1499) is solved in a fashion identical to that in the Laocoön (discovered 1506). They both have disproportionately expansive laps.
    It wouldn't surprise me if it were true. Michelangelo was a bit of a lad. I just took the dogs for a walk past the church steps where he had his nose broken as a young man by a fellow art-student. He'd been taking the piss out of the other guy's draughtsmanship. Lots of fighting and drinking and the like - and he'd already been caught faking antiquities on behalf of his agent. They were mostly dodgy, those old masters. Art history is deeply gangsta, it's true.
  • Art history is deeply gangsta, it's true. You are awesome.
  • A fake? Get out your hammer and start up the truck -- we're making a trip to the dump. Odd to think that a fake may be more valuable than the real thing. (But perhaps not so odd here at MoFi...)
  • He'd been taking the piss out of the other guy's draughtsmanship. That's the best thing I've read all day. I'm still laughing. Thanks, it's been a rough day. Don't send the DeLorean for him, send the Doctor. Ninth Doctor, in particular. Mmm. He'd get along well with da Vinci.
  • I heard he faked the neandertals.
  • Two things that bother me. 1) Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe the Trojan Horse story was mentioned in either the Iliad or the Odyssey. From the linked article:
    The marble sculpture depicts a priest and his sons struggling to break free of an attacking sea snake, based on a story in Homer’s Iliad.
    That story occurs in the Aeneid. Or at the very least is only mentioned in the Odyssey, because IIRC the Iliad ends before the horse and sack of Troy. If I'm correct then I'm not sure how a reputable organization can get it wrong. 2) The article is hosted on someone's AOL account. Hardly a sign of journalistic integrity. And does anyone have a follow-up to this talk? Transcript? Dissention from experts? I'll reserve judgment. However, even if this is a fake, it's still one of the most outstanding statues conceived.
  • Puzzling, sbutler, the Trojan Horse is indeed mentioned in the Odyssey. It does get a more detailed description by Virgil, true enough. The Iliad only covers part of the action, during the last year IIRC. So, the Trojan Horse is a correct reference. As for AOL, lots of sites are hosted by them, not just personal sites, so I'm not sure of the revelance of that. A quick google news search shows the same story covered by other mainstream news sources. I chose this one because I saw it linked elsewhere. There is no argument over the artistic merit of the statue.
  • I'm puzzled because the Trojan Horse is how they won the war.. how did the story end in the version you know?
  • Or was it in the Iliad..? perhaps it was in both. You've confused me, now.
  • I recalled it ended with the funeral of Hector. Checking with Wiki seems to bear that out.
  • The Iliad does not mention the Trojan Horse, simply because the book ends before the war does. As far as The Odyssey, I am almost certain it does not contain any mention of it-- if it did, it would be very scarce.
  • From Book IV of The Odyssey: Then Menelaus said, "...I have never seen such another man as Ulysses. What endurance too, and what courage he displayed within the wooden horse, wherein all the bravest of the Argives were lying in wait to bring death and destruction upon the Trojans.
  • Yeah, and further in book VIII, upon some googling.
  • Slightly off-topic, I loathed Troy (Agaememnon gets killed in Troy? WTF?!? There goes their chance to make the Oresteia the sequel) but Eric Bana and Peter O'Toole managed to make me cry during the movie.
  • A quick google news search shows the same story covered by other mainstream news sources. I was defeated by the diaeresis. Anyways, I think that this NYT article has a better, more balanced overview. And as far as my AOL comments goes, my sentiment is echoed in quote from the NYT article: "Until I read the full argument in a reputable academic publication, I'm going to reserve a final judgment."
  • alnedra: it's true that "troy" kind of sucked, but the eye-candy factor was astonishing... it was handsomely cast.
  • At Swim Two Birds- I love your namesake.
  • Michaelangelo was public in his admiration for il Ghirlandaio, whose work in a church fresco he claimed was the best depiction of musculature prior to his own works. Leonardo Da Vinci saw it and said "It looks like a sack of nuts." Now I can't see the painting without thinking "nut sack." (Unfortunately, I can't seem to find it online and I don't have my art textbook around handy...)
  • Amusing theory -- in the world of visual art authentication's often the trickiest part.
  • Michelangelo and Leonardo were both gay, brilliant, intensely driven, and hated each other intensely. I have always loved Ralph Steadman's picture of them, both working on frescoes in a huge hall, shouting and spewing obscenities at each other across the room from upon their respective scaffolds.
  • Not that theres' anything wrong with that.
  • At Swim- Michelangelo and Leonardo were both alledged to have homosexual relationships, but incredibly little can be proven. The evidence for LDV is that homosexual dalliances were common in Florence about his time, and that he adopted a boy who lived with him until he died (who he called Little Devil). I dunno. I don't have anything against the idea that famous people from historical times were homosexual, but I think that the twin fallacies of viewing historical sexuality through modern eyes and assuming things based on scant evidence means that the conclusions simply can't be drawn. I mean, c'mon, there are people who alledge that Christopher Marlowe was homosexual simply because "he didn't write much about his marriage." It annoys me when I hear it about Lincoln, and it annoys me more when I hear it about people who we know even less about.
  • I disagree, we can know a great deal about historical figures from their writings. We're not totally stupid. Leonardo wrote at length about the transcendant beauty of the male body and the gross ugliness of the female body. He never married and preferred the company of beautiful young men - indeed, as a youth he was considered the most beautiful man in Italy, an adonis admired by men and women alike. There seems to be little doubt among art historians about his sexuality these days. There is more doubt about Michelangelo, I grant. The evidence about Lincoln's bisexuality is, I agree, less than believable. As for Marlowe, I think there's more than just circumstantial evidence for his homosexuality, as there is for his atheism. He was a total rebel, you know, and it would certainly fit the pattern of his anti-normal character. Mind you he certainly was smeared by an incarcerated associate in effort to save his own skin. "those that love not boys and tobacco are fools" or whatever the quote was. Their sexuality of course, is totally irrelevant in any sense other than mildly interesting psychological analysis.
  • questioning staid and stale academia, shaking up and investigating rote trials and hoops people endure and jump through to become expert in a field-- it threatens those whose foundations are based on past conclusions-- my immediate reaction was wha?, but, as i said, am delighted that people at least think to question-- "facts" change constantly also a Steadman fan, loved that book i once had bewildered at how someone's sexual preference has anything to do with anything. identifying/labeling oneself or others by sexual preference is fairly recent, and whatever someone may do or have done, who they loved or if they loved-- hey, some people may want to be defined by a single moment, event, element of themselves, but what does it matter to someone who one respects for reasons removed from their sex life? How is anything Lincoln did diminished by his sexuality? How is Michelangelo improved? It doesn't change them or their work, it only changes how some choose to view them and their context in other agendas and if someone finds they have to question a lifetime contribution on it, then the foundations in question aren't academic--
  • Donatello was gayer than a box of frogs. Actually, I think the lack of evidence either way is evidence for Mikey being gay. The artists of the time who were straight were really straight. Always running off with their models, and getting all obsessed with their muses and the like. Mikey's other big rival, Raphael, was a world class shagger. A contemporary, Fra.Lippi seduced a nun. And so on. But I wouldn't go to say that any preference for the male form means Leonardo was gay. That was just the fashion of the time - hence The David and the like. It wasn't until later on that the female form became fashionable to paint/ogle at. Don't forget, female portraiture was still a new thing at the time. Apart from the Virgin Mary, women had hardly been painted at all since antiquity, never mind with their clothes off.
  • and I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling monkeys!!
  • Leonardo has always been my hero, ever since I was a child. He was centuries ahead of his time. His genius was so extraordinary that he looks like a spaceman in comparison to contemporaries. I'm not trying to be poncy, but I have a degree in Art History (yes I know, that is poncy by definition). I have read masses on the life of Leonardo, probly every book in print, including huge chunks of his notes for a dissertation, and I am dead certain in my own mind at least that he was gay. There is no end of data to support that. This is not innuendo, I celebrate the fact he was gay, it is absolutely wonderful. I stress that an observation of a great person's sexuality is of no importance other than influence on their work and thinking. I don't believe homosexuality is abnormal or sinful, or anything so retarded as that, it is simply an interesting facet of human behaviour. You can't say being gay in repressive eras doesn't shape one's thinking. I put Leonardo's integrity and humanity down to his understanding of injustice to the outsider in society. Sure, people didn't classify themselves in definitive sexual terms in antiquity as we do, but don't think that homosexual activity was not frowned upon, or was something out in the open. While male chivalrous love was a popular ideal of the era and men were not bound by 'macho' rules of behaviour as now, homosexual sex was considered a bestial sin by the church and all devout, and while it was an underground thing in Florence, it certainly wasn't elsewhere. Sodomy was punishable by imprisonment or worse, depending on where you were. Leonardo was an outsider in every sense of the word for that time, from being illegitimate, to his sexual polarity, to his incredible mind. It is perfectly obvious that his sexuality was in line with that. Quite apart from all the contemporary evidence, which is by no means ambiguous! As for the female form not being fashionable, that is somewhat true, but what I have seen, apart from religious works which made up the bulk of pre & early Renaissance stuff in Italy - which is the most visible facet we see on the arty farty tv shows etc - depictions of women, both portraiture and idealised forms, were the most prevalent among secular imagery right back into classical times. Over and above idealised male imagery, imho. There is a dearth of such work from the dark period before the Renaissance, but there is a dearth of everything else from that time, too. Much work that was frowned upon by religious authorities remained clandestine.
  • people didn't classify themselves in definitive sexual terms in antiquity as we do we don't all do and leo did the do his own way in everything that's what gets him a ninja turtle and makes him The Leonardo prevailing cultural morays of any time influences society and art reflects things in at least the context of a timeline knowing a lil 'bout art and history myself note it is oft the oddball that makes themselves noteworthy for and despite the masses i find any amassed information i knew will eventually be processed in couched fiction for the masses, bad casting and "storyline consideration in editing"
  • When you're swimmin' in a creek And an eel bites your cheek That's A MORAY
  • At Swim: All my real art history knowledge comes from later points (I can whip out about photographs from Man Ray to Meatyard), but every class I took that dealt with Leonardo said that aside from his journals, there's an incredible lack of info about Leonardo at all. And that his journals are often internally contradictory and pretty sparse on his personal life too. (Though you can hardly call the Medici time repressive of homosexuality. It went along with Neo-Platonism that every guy had to go gay if he wanted to be invited to anything...)
  • I do not wish to be rude, but that is not entirely correct. Admittedly the minutiae is arcane, but there is a wealth of stuff on Leonardo from his contemporaries. He hardly went unnoticed. The only thing stopping him from permanent incarceration for sodomy (he was arrested I think at least twice on such allegations) was lack of evidence and wealthy sponsor. I think the Medici comment to be funny, but not really consistent with the facts. Many, many people were arrested by the night watch for alleged gay activities in Florence. True, that does indicate that it was a sort of Renaissance San Francisco, but not indicative of Italy or the continent as a whole. People weren't obliged to go gay in Florence any more than people in the Castro district are. It was a congregation point for those of like mind.
  • Interesting discussion. MonkeyFilter: Get out your hammer and start up the truck -- we're making a trip to the dump. MonkeyFilter: Their sexuality of course, is totally irrelevant in any sense other than mildly interesting psychological analysis. Pure poetry
  • I read a book last term about the Night Watch of 15th century Florence - fascinating stuff. Apparently the city had a real reputation for being a gay mecca (though of course put very differently) - but, of course, the fact that they started cracking down so much is the reason that the historians have the records to know who was involved. I don't think people were obliged to go gay - in fact, it was still a decidely bad thing to be, you could loose your reputation and all that. Probably more like London in the 60s - tons of gay activity, but you could still be arrested for it.