50 Insightful Michelangelo Quotes

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Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), known simply as Michelangelo, is quite possibly the West’s best-known artist. He lived during the Italian Renaissance, an unparalleled time of artistic accomplishment. During the renaissance, classical Greece and Rome were rediscovered in the Western world. As a result, the so-called “Dark Ages” ended as the Renaissance, or “Rebirth,” took hold.

Michelangelo is perhaps best known for his statue of David and the famous ceiling of the Sistene Chapel. He was skilled in sculpting, painting, architecture, and even writing. Although his poetry has been misrepresented at times, it was a testament to “Socratic love,” popularized by Marsilio Ficino, whose academy in Florence influenced much of the greatest work of the Renaissance. Those who wished to conceal Michelangelo’s homoerotic overtones changed the pronouns in his poetry when it was first published.

Florence saw the first sparks of the Renaissance and the highest achievements in philosophy, art, and political thought in the High Renaissance. Michelangelo was known during his lifetime as “The Divine.” His works were so astounding that he was chosen to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. His work there demonstrates his skill and his passion; the ceiling is one of the greatest works of Western Art. The ultimate “Renaissance Man,” Michelangelo had an unparalleled influence on Western art.

The Most Insightful Michelangelo Quotes

Here is a collection of 50 insightful Michelangelo quotes, so that we might all read his thoughts and be in awe of “The Divine”.

  1. “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
  2. “There is no greater harm than that of time wasted.”
  3. “The greatest artist does not have any concept which a single piece of marble does not itself contain within its excess, though only a hand that obeys the intellect can discover it.”
  4. “Only God creates. The rest of us just copy.”
  5. “Beauty is the purgation of superfluities.”
  6. “Do not fret, for God did not create us to abandon us.”
  7. “The best of artists hath no art to show, Which the rough stone in its superfluous shell doth not include, To break the marble spell, is all the hand that serves the brain can do.”
  8. “Many believe – and I believe – that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him. ”
  9. “I know well that, at this hour, I could as easily forget your name as the food by which I live by; nay, it were easier to forget the food, which only nourishes by body miserably, than your name, which nourishes both body and soul, filling the one and the other with such sweetness that neither weariness nor fear of death is felt by me while memory preserves you to my mind. Think, if the eyes could also enjoy their portion, in what condition I should find myself.”
  10. “For those who feel it, nothing makes the soul so religious and pure as the endeavor to create something perfect; for God is perfection, and whoever strives after it, is striving after something divine. True painting is only the image of the perfection of God, a shadow of the pencil with which he paints, a melody, a striving after harmony.”
  11. “Do not be concerned that you might set a target too high and fail. Be concerned that you will set it too low and succeed.”
  12. “If we have been pleased with life, we should not be displeased with death since it comes from the hand of the same master.”
  13. “The mind, the soul, becomes ennobled by the endeavor to create something perfect, for God is perfection, and whoever strives after perfection is striving for something divine.”
  14. “I live in sin, to kill myself I live; no longer my life my own, but sin’s; my good is given to me by heaven, my evil by myself, by my free will, of which I am deprived.”
  15. “I am a poor man and of little worth, who is laboring in that art that God has given me in order to extend my life as long as possible.”
  16. “Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle. ”
  17. “You must know that I am, of all men who were ever born, the most inclined to love persons. Whenever I behold someone who possesses any talent or displays any dexterity of mind, who can do or say something more appropriately than the rest of the world, I am compelled to fall in love with him; and then I give myself up to him so entirely that I am no longer my own property, but wholly his.”
  18. “I live and love in God’s peculiar light. ”
  19. “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
  20. “If I am more alive because love burns and chars me, as a fire, given wood or wind, feels new elation, it’s that he who lays me low is my salvation, and invigorates the more, the more he scars me.”
  21. “If in my youth I had realized that the sustaining splendor of beauty of with which I was in love would one day flood back into my heart, there to ignite a flame that would torture me without end, how gladly would I have put out the light in my eyes.”
  22. “Your gifts lie in the place where your values, passions and strengths meet. Discovering that place is the first step toward sculpting your masterpiece, Your Life.”
  23. “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
  24. “Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I accomplish.”
  25. “Art is the gift of God, and must be used unto His glory. That in art is highest which aims at this.”
  26. “Beauty depends on purpose. It is in the elements best suited to their purpose or aim that beauty shines forth most strongly.”
  27. “Already at sixteen, my mind was a battlefield: my love of pagan beauty, the male nude, at war with my religious faith. A polarity of themes and forms: one spiritual, the other earthly.”
  28. “Critique by creating.”
  29. “Genius is infinite painstaking.”
  30. “What one has most to work and struggle for in painting is to do the work with a great amount of labour and sweat in such a way that it may afterward appear, however much it was laboured upon, to have been done almost quickly and almost without any labour, and very easily, although it was not.”
  31. “Death and love are the two wings that bear the good man to heaven.”
  32. “So now, from this mad passion which made me take art for an idol and a king I have learnt the burden of error that it bore and what misfortune springs from man’s desire… the world’s frivolities have robbed me of the time that I was given for reflecting upon God.”
  33. “A good artist ought never to allow impatience to overcome his sense of the main end of art – perfection.”
  34. “The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.”
  35. “I dare affirm that any artist… who has nothing singular, eccentric, or at least reputed to be so, in his person, will never become a superior talent.”
  36. “A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it.”
  37. “Poets and painters have the power to dare, I mean to dare to do whatever they may approve of.”
  38. “Souls will never ascend to Heaven until the sight of beauty lifts them there.”
  39. “True art is made noble and religious by the mind producing it.”
  40. “If it be true that any beautiful thing raises the pure and just desire of man from earth to God, the eternal fount of all, such I believe my love.”
  41. “Is it any wonder, since, when near the fire, I was melted and burned, if now that it’s extinguished outside me, it besets and consumes me inside, and bit by bit reduces me to ashes?”
  42. “Let whoever may have attained to so much as to have the power of drawing know that he holds a great treasure.”
  43. “No one has mastery, Before he is at the end, Of his art and his life.”
  44. “Good painting is nothing else but a copy of the perfections of God and a reminder of His painting. Finally, good painting is a music and a melody which intellect only can appreciate, and with great difficulty.”
  45. “The power of one fair face makes my love sublime, for it has weaned my heart from low desires.”
  46. “Painting and sculpture, labour and good faith, have been my ruin and I continually go from bad to worse. Better it would have been for me if I had set myself to making matches in my youth. I should not be in such distress of mind.”
  47. “I live in sin, to kill myself I live; no longer my life my own, but sin’s; my good is given to me by heaven, my evil by myself, by my free will, of which I am deprived.”
  48. “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
  49. “I created a vision of David in my mind and simply carved away everything that was not David.”
  50. “To know each other is the best way to understand each other. To understand each other is the only way to love each other.”

See our quotes from other awesome artists: Salvador Dali Quotes and Picasso Quotes

Video: Who Was Michelangelo?

If you’ve read this far you are probably a big fan. Michelangelo really had an amazing impact on the art world. You know Michelangelo for his great work on the Sistine Chapel. But you might not know that his true passion was for sculpture!  Find out more about Michelangelo’s childhood and his Wonder Years as he moves between sculptor and painter.

 

Summary

Michelangelo was an outstanding, amazing man who heavily influenced Western art and culture. Six centuries after he walked the streets of Florence, we stand in awe of his talent and his dedication. We hope you have enjoyed these insightful Michelangelo quotes. May they inspire you to live your own unique greatness.

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