Up Close with the Sistine

Ever dreamed of being an artist on par with Michelangelo? There’s an exhibit opening soon that may help you get just a little closer to that dream…


The exhibition — running at the Palais des Congres in Montreal from July 10th until October 12th — promises to give you a never-before-seen perspective of the Sistine Ceiling, getting you up-close and personal with life-size versions of the paintings. Using licensed original photos to reproduce the “look, size and feel of the original frescoes,” the exhibit lets viewers get as close to those masterpieces as Michelangelo himself.

Now, I understand you aren’t going to be walking around the REAL paintings in the REAL Sistine Chapel. I have been lucky enough to visit the Sistine half-a-dozen times; nothing can compare to the real experience (the first time I saw that ceiling, my life changed; I will write more about that later). I understand that this exhibit is
a Hollywoodized version of art.

But maybe that’s what I love about it.

I love that it brings art down to OUR level where we don’t have to crane our necks or squint. I love that a team of LA-based producers are trying to turn Michelangelo into a mass-marketed blockbuster using state-of-the-art technology. I love that regular people who may never make it to Italy can walk amongst a forest of Michelangelo masterpieces.

But I also love the quiet suggested by this exhibition. In this loud, bustling world, where people are hooked up to Google, cable news, and five different social media sites at the same time, this exhibition seems a great excuse to disconnect from all of that and surround yourself with some true beauty. Give yourself some time to reflect on art, creativity, genius, humanity, God…

Michelangelo didn’t have a blog or an Instagram feed or a web series to express himself. He had an awkwardly shaped ceiling hundreds of feet off the ground, a few buckets of paint, and his heart.

Go. Think about that. Because maybe by standing among Michelangelo’s masterpieces, you will be inspired to create your own.



10 thoughts on “Up Close with the Sistine

  1. Dear Lady and Gentlemen,

    I have some concerns about that upcoming „Sistine Chapel“ exhibiton.
    As I have just asked for some further infos about the “ expert Professor Astrid Blasberg of University Frankfur „ I have received a very strange email (attached) from the producer,
    President and Executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs for Special Entertainment Events, Inc. (“SEE”) and GEP Interactive, Inc. (“GEPI”)
    which will try to stop any questions about his exhibiton: (
    I demand that you immediately cease and desist from sending any further emails to any of them or any third party or making any posts on any websites or social media relating to the Exhibition,
    Meanwhile I have received a writen statement from Astrid Blasberg, that she has NOTHING to do with that exhibiton, and also she is not a Professor)

    Further infos you can find e.g. here:


    Ander from Switzerland

    Sistine Chapel – Montreal – Astrid Blasberg
    Von: “Robert Angel” An: “Andreas_Ander@web.de” Datum: 30.06.2015 20:15:09
    Dear Mr. Ander:
    I am the President and Executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs for Special Entertainment Events, Inc. (“SEE”) and GEP Interactive, Inc. (“GEPI”), which are mounting and presenting Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition (the “Exhibition”) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Your recent email messages to Veronica Redgrave, Astrid Blasberg, and Icon Vision Media regarding Ms. Blasberg and the Exhibition have been referred to me for response.
    As I understand your emails, you were initially concerned about a statement which appeared on a prior press release and a prior iteration of the Exhibition website relating to the Exhibition which identified Ms. Blasberg as a “Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Frankfurt, and a Premier Art Historian.” In one of your emails, you stated, “with interest I have read your Web-Site and you (sic) press releases concerning the Sistine Chapel exhibition in Montreal. As I am very interested in further details about the Sistine Chapel painting from Michelangelo, I would like to ask Prof. Astrid Blasberg some further questions about that phantastic (sic) work. But there is no contact address at your public data. Could you please provide me with the private or university email of Prof. Astrid Blasberg. Many thanks and the best regards from Swizerland (sic).”
    In a subsequent email you stated, “There exiest (sic) NO Professor Astrid Blasberg, University of Frankfurt, Department of Art History, and Premier Art Historian. … If your datas (sic) are correct, than it looks that the whole quote of ‘Prof. Astrid Blasberg, University Frankfut (sic)’ is a fake.” In another email, you stated that “in the newest version of the web side (sic) and the newest press release the producer has taken the ‘Professor’ title from Astrid Blasberg away.” Then you stated, “Maybe the University and the Art History have also no substance and will also be canceled soon. According to my research is (sic) Astrid Blasberg just a freelance artist. She has no relationship and special know how about Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo. So, what value has that quote. And what is the reason to place this worthless quote? “
    In yet another email, you stated, “As Prof. Astrid Blasberg seems to be the expert for Sistine
    Chapel and Michelangelo, and that matter is in some details for me a litte (sic) complicated, so the best is to speak direct (sic) with Prof. Basberg (sic). She can shurely (sic) easy (sic) give me some further help or hint for my research paper: As it covers some questions like how exact the reproduction can be under consideration of colours and sizes of the single figures and why e.g the Inudies (sic) are not done.”
    To respond to your statements, please be advised that Astrid Blasberg is a prominent artist and art historian who lives and works in Frankfurt am Main. Her artworks have been exhibited in major galleries and she has been actively involved in art history and education for over 25 years. As a successful artist and art historian, Ms. Blasberg is intimately familiar with the Michelangelo works in the Sistine Chapel and is qualified to comment on the accuracy of the works comprising the Exhibition and her reaction to the effect on her of the presentation of those works in Montreal. Please note that the prior erroneous references in the press release and on the Exhibition website to Ms. Blasberg as a Professor of Art History at the University of Frankfurt were due to an overzealous publicist and have been corrected.
    While we appreciate your interest in the Exhibition, SEE, GEPI and Ms. Redgrave have no obligation to assist you in your request “to speak direct (sic)” with Ms. Blasberg or to “give me some further help or hint for my research paper.” Ms. Blasberg is a private citizen and is unable to respond to every inquiry due to the volume of requests made to her.
    On behalf of Ms. Redgrave, Ms. Blasberg, SEE, GEPI and Icon Vision Media, I demand that you immediately cease and desist from sending any further emails to any of them or any third party or making any posts on any websites or social media relating to the Exhibition, SEE, GEPI, or Ms. Blasberg. If we discover that you have ignored this demand, please be advised that Ms. Redgrave, Ms. Blasberg, SEE, GEPI and Icon Vision Media will interpret your actions as harassment and tortious interference with their operation of the Exhibition, and they will consider appropriate legal action and substantial damages against you.
    Nothing contained herein shall be deemed a waiver or relinquishment of any of the rights, remedies, or defenses of Ms. Redgrave, Ms. Blasberg, SEE, GEPI and Icon Vision Media and all of their rights, remedies, and defenses are expressly reserved.
    Robert M. Angel


  2. The content of this blog is wrong at so many levels.
    Let’s leave for a moment lala land, and let’s go back to the real context of what the blog is talking about:

    – the Sistine Chapel is the landmark of the Catholic religion,
    – it is a sacred place where popes are elected by the Conclave,
    – it is a church, with an altar, and the Last Judgment happens to be behind an altar.

    If this were not enough:

    – it shows paintings of the highest quality from the Italian Renaissance, which – per se – are the epitome of the highest form of art,
    – among them: Raffaello, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Michelangelo,
    – it is part of the Vatican Museums.

    It is beyond my comprehension how anyone can reduce such a religious, historical, art monument to a Hollywood show without much knowledge of fine art and religious competence of the subject matter, and even less understandable are comments that celebrate the “hollywoodization” of such a sacred place.
    Shame on all those who have lost any respect for religion and art!


    1. Greatly appreciate your comments, Thomas! I have enormous respect for the quality of the art at the Vatican (I have an art history background) and the Catholic Church. I respect your thoughts and think it brings up an interesting discussion. Here’s my short response:

      I do not think an exhibition such as the one in Montreal can compare to visiting the real Sistine. However, I know that a lot of people — just regular people in the world, with little experience with art and religion — can sometimes feel daunted by approaching a great work of art. They feel like they don’t know enough about it to appreciate it, so they avoid it completely. Sometimes those of us who love art put it so high up on a pedestal that it’s out of reach of the general public. I understand that “Hollywoodizing” art may seem offensive, but that’s just my way of saying, I want to make art accessible and exciting to regular people with no background in art history. If this exhibition — YES, just enlarged reproductions of photographs — gets ONE child or teenager or “regular Joe” interested in learning more about Michelangelo or the Sistine or art or maybe even walking into a church and learning more about God, then I consider that a victory.


      1. Thank you for taking the time to answer me.
        We have a common ground when you speak of the need to present art to a wider audience who otherwise would not be able to see fine art..
        In the past there have been a few projects which have done this more or less successfully; for ex: the Rembrandt photo-reproduction exhibit.
        BUT there are huge differences between the Rembrandt reproductions exhibit and the one presenting the Sistine Chapel in Montreal.
        The Rembrandt exhibit was curated by one of the most famous Rembrandt experts in Holland, who dedicated his life to study the artist. The exhibit in Montreal has no experts team, no curator, no endorsement from the Catholic Church, and if you read the most recent comments in other websites: no one in this Hollywood company can answer any technical question (size, colors, provenience of the photo material), and their “expert” has declared that she is not involved in the exhibit.
        Moreover I was shocked at reading the comment before mine: this Hollywood company seems to be stronger in attorneys than in fine art curators. This is exactly where I have a problem with: the Hollywoodization of such a masterpiece of human genius IS NOT ART, and I deduce that the motivation of these people is not to bring art to a wider audience nor to inspire people, but to make a quick buck by exploiting Michelangelo genius and the cradle of the Catholic religion.
        I congratulate you on your book, and I will definitely buy it! I am intrigued by the title: why oil and not “tempera and marble”? But I am sure I will find out in your book.
        Italian painters of the early and middle Renaissance painted in tempera, only Leonardo started to paint with oil, whose mixture he then improved… of course, being Leonardo 🙂
        We do have a common passion, my mother was Italian (“Romana de’ Roma”, as she used to say), and I believe my love for art is genetic.
        Thank you again for you time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thomas – Thanks again for your astute comments! I was just going to let them stand on their own (although I think I could discuss this stuff all day), but one observation of yours was so keen, I have to take a moment to respond. It’s about my title, Oil and Marble. So glad you picked up on it… See, the thing is, my book isn’t JUST about Michelangelo. It’s about Michelangelo AND Leonardo… and the bitter rivalry that drove them both to greatness. I feel the same as you – art is in my blood. I think we’re both lucky that way!


    1. I have seen it too in Montreal and I have wasted my money.
      I know the frescos of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and I felt cheated by this poor, quickly done, ignorant rendition of a Sistine Chapel Michelangelo never painted.
      The claim that the photos are “to the inch” the same size as the originals is a pure lie, and I wonder why these people feel the need to lie about something which is so obviously false!
      This project is a huge waste of money: my own because i paid the ticket to see it, and the producers money. If they really wanted to bring art closer to a larger audience, they could have donated their money to a school in Africa to teach art to unprivileged children.
      But of course, the latter alternative would have brought 0 $$$$$ to their pockets.


  3. This exhibit is an example of how a technically good idea – to make works of art accessible to larger audiences – has turned out into a total failure.
    First: the producer lied from the start creating fake quotes and endorsement from a German professor who does not exist.
    Then Martin Biallas stated that the measures of the photos are the same as the originals “to the inch” and “we did not change anything”. There is ample evidence now that none of the photo has the same size as the originals in the Vatican. Some reproductions have been enlarged by a factor of 1:3, the Last Judgement is smaller than the original by one quarter. By enlarging the photos, the brush strokes have been enlarged so that it looks as Michelangelo had painted with a broom, not with a brush.
    More lies: “all the photos are after the restoration”, not true: a large number of photos are dark and before the restoration.
    Lies about the provenience of the photos: 2/3 of the photos are from the Archives of Erich Lessing, but were not taken by Erich Lessing, the provenience of the rest is unknown.
    Moreover some photos have been photoshopped and frames have been included which Michelangelo never painted.
    This exhibit has been put together in a hurry and without any fine art expert support or know-how … and it shows.
    In addition the exhibit is run in such an amateurish way which casts a doubt whether the producer has ever produced anything by himself.
    The audio guides do not work, pieces of paper with the photos descriptions are taped to the metal frames. The prices in the shop are handwritten, the Vita of Michelangelo is glued to a yellow bed sheet badly folded. School projects are more professional than this exhibit.
    The exhibit social media has been childish and ignorant. The PR has been deceitful and arrogant with statements such as: “Rome move over, Montreal is coming”, or “not even the Popes have seen it so close”.
    This is a deceptive and deceitful exhibit, put together quickly to make a quick buck and with no knowledge of the subject matter nor any respect for the visitors who are expected to pay over 20$ to see it.
    It is a failure because the world of art and the world of exhibitions are not for everybody and definitely not for amateurs, it is a failure because it has been criticized by some but mostly ignored by the majority of fine art experts and representatives of the Church.
    It is a failure because it has not passed the mother of all the tests: the acceptance of the people of Montreal. Biallas announced his expectations to have 100’000 visitors, anyone who has visited the exhibit – like me – has counted only few visitors who ventured into seeing it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s