The Agony and the Ecstasy

By Irving Stone; Published In 1958
Genres: Historical, Fiction, Art, Classics, Cultural, Italy
An artist without ideas is a mendicant; barren, he goes begging among the hours.

...and rout the magical mystical moonlight with fierce proof of its own greater power to light, to heat, to make everything known.

A new doctor had been sent for, Lazzaro of Pavia, who had administered to Lorenzo a pulverized mixture of diamonds and pearls. This hitherto infallible medicine had failed to help.

Bleed me of art, and there won't be enough liquid left in me to spit! [Michelangelo Buonorotti]

Drawing is the poet's written line, set down to see if there be a story worth telling, a truth worth revealing.

From this vantage point he came to a realization that everything that had happened to him before this had been a journey upward through time, everything that occurred after it a descent. If he could not control his fate, why be born?

He believed that every individual was responsible for his conduct on earth, that there was a judge within. Could even a blazingly Christ inflict greater retribution? Could Dante's Charon in his rowboat on the river Acheron whip the miscreants into a deeper, more everlasting hell than man's unvarnished verdict of himself?

He had always loved God. In his darkest hours he cried out, "God did not create us to abandon us.

He had never believed that spirituality had to be anemic or aesthetic.

He turned, stood above the crowd gazing up at him. There was silence in the
square. And yet he had never felt such complete communication. It was as though they read each other’s thoughts, as though they were one and the same: they were part of him,every Florentine standing below, eyes turned up to him, and he was a part of them.

His sculpture would have joy in it, try to capture the sense of fertility of Dionysus, the nature god, the power of the intoxicating drink that enabled a man to laugh and sing and forget for a while the sorrow of his earthly miseries. And then, perhaps, at the same time he could portray the decay that came with too much forgetfulness, that he saw all around him, when man surrendered his moral and spiritual values for the pleasures of the
flesh. The Bacchus would be the central figure of his theme, a human being rather than a demigod; then there would be a child of about seven, sweet-
faced, lovable, nibbling from a bunch of grapes. His composition would have death in it too; the tiger, who liked wine and was loved by Bacchus, with the deadest, dead skin and head conceivable

How could he have been so stupid, so blind? David pictured after Goliath could be no one but the biblical David, a special individual. He was not content to portray one man; he was seeking universal man, Everyman, all of whom,from the beginning of time,
had faced a decision to strike for freedom

It's freezing up here. What did you use to keep warm?"
"Indignation," said Michelangelo. "Best fuel I know. Never burns out.

It's pleasant to get used to the expensive, the soft, the comfortable. Once you're addicted, it's so easy to become a sycophant, to trim the sails of your judgment in order to be kept on. The next step is to change your work to please those in power, and that is death to the sculptor.

It was like penetrating deep into white marble with the pounding live thrust of
his chisel beating upward through the warm living marble with one ”Go!”, his whole body behind the heavy hammer, penetrating through ever deeper and deeper furrows of soft yielding living substance until he had reached the explosive climax, and all of his
fluid strength, love, passion, desire had been poured into the nascent form, and the marble block, made to love the and of the true sculptor, and responded, giving of its inner heat
and substance and fluid form, until at last the sculptor and the marble had totally coalesced, so deeply penetrating and infusing each other that they had become one, marble and man and organic unity, each fulfilling the other in the greatest act of art and love known to the human species.

L'arte è fatta per coloro che si sente indegno senza di essa.

Listen, my friend, all forms that exist in God's universe can be found in the human figure. A man's body and face can tell everything he represents. So how could I ever exhaust my interest in it?

Lorenzo il Magnifico, the Plato Four, the humanists had taught him that man was the center of the universe; and this was never more demonstrable that when he stood looking upward and found himself, a lone individual, serving as the central pole holding up the tarpaulin of sun and clouds, moon and stars, knowing that, lone or abandoned as he might feel, without his support the heavens would fall.

Na?i ?e se drugi papa, ali nikad više ne?e biti Boti?elija.

No man is born into the world whose work is not born with him.

One should not become an artist because he can, but because he must. It is only for those who would be miserable without it.

Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.

That was how his pen finally designed his sculpture; in the center the weak,
confused, arrogant, soon to be destroyed young man holding cup a loft, behind him the idyllic child, clear-eyed, munching his grapes, symbol of joy
; between them the tiger skin. The Bacchus, hollow within himself, flabby, reeling, already old; the Satyr,
eternally young and gay, symbol of man’s childhood and naughty innocence

The most perfect guide is nature. Continue without fail to draw something every day.

The sculptor is master of time; he can change his subjects forward or back.

To try to understand another human being, to grapple for his ultimate depths, that is the most dangerous of human endeavors.

We are giving the world back to man, and man back to himself. Man shall no longer be vile, but noble. We shall not destroy his mind in return for an immortal soul. Without a free, vigorous and creative mind, man is but an animal, and he will die like an animal, without any shred of a soul. We return to man his arts, his literature, his sciences, his independence to think and feel as an individual, not to be bound to dogma like a slave, to rot in his chains.

We...believe that art is religious, because it is one of man's highest aspirations. There is no such thing as pagan art, only good and bad art.

What meaning has a compliment if one hears it night and day.

What we know of others is our personal secret.