“In the landmark 1967/8 documentary, The Secret of Michelangelo, Every Man’s Dream, Alexander Eliot, painter and former art critic and editor for Time magazine states that “almost everything we saw on the barrel vault came clearly from Michelangelo’s own inspired hand. There are passages of the finest, the most delicately incisive draughtsmanship imaginable.” The film, produced by Capital Cities Broadcasting Corporation, directed by Milton Fruchtman, written by Alexander Eliot and narrated by Christopher Plummer and Zoe Caldwell, provided a brief, one hour tour of the expansive Sistine ceiling. Through the use of close-ups, audiences were presented with details of the fresco never seen before, details that were impossible to grasp at great distance.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Alexander Eliot about the film, the chapel, and his fight against the cleaning, which began in 1981. – Einav Zamir“
“Life is a fatal adventure. It can only have one end. So why not make it as far-ranging and free as possible?”
– Alexander Eliot
Against a backdrop featuring Alexander Eliot’s famous quote, artist Rich Theroux delivers an inspiring talk on why we we need to keep making art.
About Rich Theroux
Rich Theroux is the co-founder of the Rumble House Arts Society (formerly known as Gorilla House LIVE ART). Most Calgarians know Theroux for founding the Gorilla House LIVE ART which facilitated a platform for artists to engage with their audience. His passion is to promote local artists and provide them with a space to create, exhibit and sell their work all in the same night.
Gorilla House Live Art started in July 2012 as a drop-in space for artists but quickly became known for its “live art battles” on Wednesday nights. The gist? Artists show up, spin the “wheel of doom” for a theme and have to create a work of art in just two hours, which gets auctioned off at the close of the night. The events were open-to-all-ages and free to attend. People can stay and watch or be a part of the creative process.
Theroux is a painter, writer and an art teacher at St. Michael’s Junior High School. He is also the co-author of the 2014 Inclusionist Manifesto.
About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
A record of the original Sistine Chapel survives. In 1967/8 the writer, painter and former art critic of Time, Alexander Eliot and his film-maker wife, Jane Winslow Eliot, spent over 500 hours on the scaffold making The Secret of Michelangelo, Every Man’s Dream, in the course of which film they noted that:
“With the exception of the previously restored Prophet Zachariah, almost everything we saw on the barrel vault came clearly from Michelangelo’s own inspired hand. There are passages of the finest, the most delicately incisive draughtsmanship imaginable.”
Someday, the Eliots’ film (made for ABC Television) might be re-shown, but meanwhile, Alexander Eliot’s testimony is now on the record in a new full-length film/DVD biography, A Light in the Dark: The Art and Life of Frank Mason, in which he and other early campaigners against the restoration (including the late painter, Frank Mason, and the late Professor James Beck) are given voice on the Sistine Chapel restoration. Not least of the delights among this film’s precious and historical footage, are Tom Wolfe’s account of his lessons in Frank Mason’s painting classes at the Art Students League, New York, and the sight of the former Metropolitan Museum of Art director, the late Thomas Hoving, belligerently boasting that he himself had helped sponge from the ceiling the “filth” that was in truth the last stages of Michelangelo’s painting.
The 500th anniversary of the completion in 1512 of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling paintings has gone almost entirely un-celebrated. On October 31st, in a small “in-house” service marking the 500th anniversary of Pope Julius II’s service celebrating the completion of the ceiling, Pope Benedict XVI asked a group of cardinals, Vatican employees and guests to imagine what it must have been like 500 years ago, adding that contemplating the frescoes renders them “more beautiful still, more authentic. They reveal all of their beauty. It is as if during the liturgy, all of this symphony of figures come to life, certainly in a spiritual sense, but inseparably also aesthetically.” Apologists for the transforming 1980-90 restoration of the ceiling are nonplussed by the missed opportunity for a mega-beano half-millennium art celebration.
Written by Alexander Eliot, The Secret of Michelangelo: Every Man’s Dream an hour long special, appeared on ABC prime time television Dec. 6, 1968 9:30-10:30 p.m. Christopher Plummer and Zoe Caldwell narrate this documentary on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
In this promotional intro, you can see Jane and Alex climbing the scaffold to the ceiling.