Funky Winkerbean, a strip that only addresses the most current and topical of issues. Bringing us hot takes on the cultural debates that shape our world today. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, restored and conserved in the 80’s.
And Funky has to be one of those weird romantic hipsters that preferred the ceiling dark and dirty as the original sin it portrays. Not that he’s really alone. Go online and you will find entire cabals of passionate folk nitpicking the way they cleaned that ceiling, and they will never NEVER stop. Because there’s a genuine debate over if the ‘one solvent solves all’ approach of stripping the ceiling of anything that wasn’t painted on when the plaster was still wet erased details that our favorite pizza-loving, sewer-dwelling, turtle went back and put in there, rather than just erasing the heavy handed touch ups of early restorers.
There are others who thought that aggressively cleaning the ceiling at all was wrong. Some objects: furniture, coins, leather, firearms; collect a patina over the years that collectors consider a sin to remove, no matter how much time and oxidation have changed the appearance of the object. The ceiling as it was before showed its age, showed the hands of time and the hands of hundreds of tiny touchups by dozens of different humans through the centuries. It had accumulated a story. Who were we to erase that history?
But on the other hand, a painting is a statement by the artist. Mikey boy painted that ceiling to put into the physical world something in his mind and heart he had decided to say. If we had allowed time and grime and 18th century hands to obscure that work, we were changing the message of a man who could no longer speak for himself.
And Mikey was one odd duck, and not a guy we should ever talk over. The best story in the Sistine Chapel, one some of you might have heard, is actually on The Last Judgement wall fresco. It’s said that when Pope Paul III and some of his retinue were previewing the not complete work, the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies, Biago da Cesena, complained about all the naked people, saying the equivalent of ‘this doesn’t belong in a church, but in a bathhouse’.
Michelangelo heard this and, (In the words of my tour guide from my visit) ‘painted that man in the darkest corner of Hell, right above the door, where everyone would see him when exiting.’
A little bit of a prickly reaction. Kinda petty. Kinda vindictive. Sounds a little like something Tom would do.
But then again, Tom hardly has the artistic chops to back up his bluster. He’s no Michelangelo, a man so talented that, when poor Biago complained, all the Pope could say was, “I have no jurisdiction over Hell.”