The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican

The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican

by Benjamin Blech, Roy Doliner

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Overview

The Shocking Secrets of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Artwork

The recent cleaning of the Sistine Chapel frescoes removed layer after layer of centuries of accumulated tarnish and darkness. The Sistine Secrets endeavors to remove the centuries of prejudice, censorship, and ignorance that blind us to the truth about one of the world's most famous and beloved art treasures.

Some images that appeared in the print edition of this book are unavailable in the electronic edition due to rights reasons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061987458
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/27/2009
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 31,699
File size: 63 MB
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About the Author

Rabbi Benjamin Blech is an internationally recognized educator, religious leader, author, and lecturer. A recipient of the American Educator of the Year Award, he has been a professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University since 1966. He is the author of eleven books and has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, and Newsday. He lives in New York City.


Roy Doliner's studies span the spectrum of the humanities: languages, comparative religion, art history, Italian and Roman history, and Judaica (including Talmud, Midrash and Kabbalah). He is often called upon to act as a docent for scholars and international dignitaries to Rome and the Vatican Museums. He divides his time between Rome and New York City.

What People are Saying About This

Enrico Bruschini

“Just as the work of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel changed forever the world of art, so will this book change forever the way to view and, above all, to understand the work of Michelangelo!”

Jonathan Harr

“This book of astounding revelations is built on careful scholarship, lucid exposition, and it is, above all, compelling reading.”

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Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a student of Michelangelo, here in the US and Italy, I was aware of many of the topics discussed in this book. However, there were also many that I had not known. This is an EXCELLENT book. I wanted to know more!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Blech and Dolinger approach the topic with a certain sincerity and innovation that should not be ignored. Certainly, their scholarship exposes an unexplored insight into the work of Michaelangelo. It is hard however to prove either way that Michaelangelo knew or didn't know about certain aspects of Jewish mysticism, or intentionally made certain statements that were ahead of his time. Nevertheless, Blech and Dolinger present a compelling argument and makes an important scholarly contribution into an already crowded field of research.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an artist, The Sistine Secrets has given me a perspective into what it was like to live 500 years ago that actually makes me appreciate the time I am living in today! The book has opened my eyes to things I wasn¿t taught in school. It¿s time to re-write the art history books! I found the section on Michelangelo¿s education to be of great importance since it would inform his art making later in his life. He was taken under the wing of Lorenzo de¿ Medici when he saw his genius with a chisel and stone, and offered him a home at the de¿ Medici palace. Michelangelo learned along side Lorenzo¿s children from their master scholars: Angelo Ambrogini of Montepulciano also known as Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino and Count Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola. From them he learned the classics, Neo-Platonism, humanism, Kabala and the notion of creating a bridge between these ideologies that later influenced the Sistine ceiling. Artists are influenced by everything that surrounds them. Yes, they often have amazing imaginations and can think beyond the physical world, yet what they see and hear plays a big part in their work. Often, these influences find their way into their art even when they are not aware of it themselves ¿ it happens intuitively. Other times, it is a conscious effort to get one¿s agenda out into the world via the art. Artist¿s of all genres including novelists, musicians, playwrights and screenwriters put their concerns about the world into their work. They reflect the current status of affairs and suggest a better system beyond it. Another important factor to understand from the Sistine Secrets is that artists of Michelangelo¿s time were not allowed to sign their work! Because of this, artists like Raphael always found a way to put his portrait into his work as he did with his most important piece, the School of Athens. Michelangelo signed his work once on the Pieta and was sworn never to be so ¿vain¿ again. The vain ones were the patrons, often the Popes, who insisted that colors and emblems of their family crests could be visible in art with biblical themes. Not being able to sign a work goes against the individualistic philosophy of our time and no doubt must have made artists of Michelangelo¿s time feel like slaves to the system. I would have added personal ¿signatures¿ if given the chance. I¿m sure every true artist would, regardless of the pressure to do otherwise! The authors brilliantly spend about four pages explaining the official story the Vatican offers about the Sistine ceiling and then spends the rest of the book detailing a new interpretation. The research that no doubt was involved is phenomenal! They reference practically every book about the artist that came before and then put the pieces together like a puzzle along with what Michelangelo learned from the scholars of the de¿ Medici palace. It shows just how much Michelangelo planned and thought out what he was going to do - to leave a personal message in the heart of the Vatican, even if he was the only one besides his friends that knew it was there ... until now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is insightful and well written. I recommend it to all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A different look
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For someone who vowed I would never read anything on art appreciation or art history if only God would help me pass my humanities class, I must say I found this book extremely interesting and fun to read (of course, since i long since gave up God, I suppose he'll forgive me for breaking my promise, since I did indeed pass humanities). A hypothesis about the hidden messages Michaelangelo painted into the Sistine Chapel, in essence, some suggest, thumbing his nose at the Catholic hierarchy. This author suggests that the messages can be unraveled by looking into the Jewish Kabbalah, and explains exactly how he woudl interpret the various pictures in the chapel. Darn, now I have to find a book on the Kabbalah, and my list is just so long already! I highly recommend this book, though I do have some reservations about accepting his thesis without more research.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An absolutely fascinating, if controversial, analysis of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes. Blech and Doliner argue that Michelangelo held universalistic views not only embracing antiquity and humanistic approach, but also religious views that were in direct conflict with the views of the Catholic church of the time, and were based on Neo-Platonism, hermeneutics and Jewish Kabbalah. Michelangelo was a thoroughly Italian Renaissance figure with his primary love focused on the Antiquity and classical Greek and Roman art and deep religious convictions. But, he was also thoroughly fed up with the immorality, militarism and nepotism of the popes and the church, and everything points to the possiblity that he did not even remain Catholic, but became Protestant by the end of his life. Hence the Sistine ceiling paintings are full of anti-papal messages and devoid of even single New Testament reference or figure, and awash in Old Testament lore instead, very much with a Jewish Bible slant. Being a universalist, Michelangelo wanted to meld the pagan Greek and Roman heritage with the origins of the Christian religion and the New Testament. Some of these elements were well entrenched when he was doing his art, but the Jews were shunned. They were labelled the murderers of Christ for many centuries, denounced by the Church, and it was only in the twentieth century, and by the end of it, that the Church has somewhat let up on that stance. According to Blech, Michelangelo brought it upon himself to rehabilitate the Jews, especially that he saw what was happening in Rome at that time as an aberration of the original religious teachings, and preached Jewish Bible stories and interpretations as warnings. He couldn't do it openly- death would surely follow pretty quickly- so he secretly embedded it in his work. It seems that he got a lot of his knowledge from Neoplatonists of his time, some of whom were his teachers (e.g., Pico della Mirandola) when he was growing up at the Medici court in Florence.The book shows great scholarship of its author and his vast religious knowledge. I learned more about Michelangelo, papacy, Old Testament and Jewish Kabbalah from it than I probably would from separate sources on them.
tuh More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoy the history, Jewish thought, customs, and explanation about all of the paintings in the Sistine Chapel. A wonderful book. I had seen an interview with Benjamin Blech about the book which prompted me to order and read it. I am thankful that I did. Michaelangelo was a true grnius.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Presentation of the first half was so well done time didn't exist, from then to end Buonarroti and I have a single shared emotion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Post symbols and how to do them!!! &#28961 Chinese letters&# 28949-&# 28980 Roman numerals&# 8535-&# 8565 Arrows&# 8592-&# 8689 All without spaces!!!!!
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