CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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CASINI, Tommaso
Filming the Sistine Chapel: the multiple Michelangelos

Session 2 The Rank of Art

International University of Language and Media

Museology and History of Art Criticism


The visual reproduction of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes is a matter of everlasting interest, ever since the earliest printed images of the XVIth century, which were replaced by the middle XIXth century by the invention of photography and later by digital images. The production of this kind of images gave new impetus to the growing interest for Michelangelo's figures, both as a complex iconographic set and as selected visual episode. Throughout the XXth century the use of moving images and the progress of editing processes allowed a better understanding of Michelangelo's work, contributing also to increase his myth.This remark hints to some fiction movies and especially to a series of documentaries which have been broadcasted by many international TV programs during the Sistine Chapel's stages of restoration.

This paper will try  for the first time to survey some theoretical aspects in the production of documentary films devoted to Michelangelo. They will be examined as historical sources capable of disclosing both critical and didactic methodolgies in the proper context of their time. 
The audio-visual technologies and the new media offer to the viewers new opportunities to watch at Michelangelo’s frescoes even before really experiencing them. The lack of a direct fruition, that may also never take place, modifies the usual aesthetic perception or even gives birth to a ficticious meta-Sistine on the basis of a contemporary hyper-surrogate. The social impact that media have had on the reception of Michelangelo's work throughout the last century will also be discussed. 
The paper will try to answer a further question: how did the evaluation the Sistine Chapel change in the light of the reproduction techniques and by the early practice of photography and film?


CASINI, Tommaso 

Tommaso Casini is associate Professor of Museology and History of Art Criticism. He was educated at Rome University "La Sapienza"  (1988-1992) and obtained in 1999 a PhD from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. Currently he teaches Museology and History of Art Criticism at in Milan, International University of Language and Media (IULM); and History of art-historical documentary and photography at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Milan. His main areas of research are the iconography of portrait and physiognomy (16th-19th centuries), the relationship between texts and images (16th – 17th centuries), the translation and reproduction of art works (printed, photographic and filmed: 16th – 21th centuries).
He is member of CIHA Italian Comité and SISCA (Italian Art Critic Society).