Fine Art Notebook™

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Posts Tagged ‘six degrees of separation

Slapping God’s Hand

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Six Degrees of Separation, Sistine Chapel
HBO has been replaying one of my all-time favorite films, “Six Degrees of Separation.”  Have you seen it?  I suppose the reason I love this film so much has a lot to do with the fact that art plays a starring role and it was released the same year I graduated from college with an art history degree.

I could tell you about the film’s plot, but I wont, because you should see it.  I’ll tell you why it’s on my mind today.  I’m recalling the scene where Stockard Channing’s character, Ouisa, triumphantly walks away from her shallow money and image-obsessed husband.  “We’re a terrible match,” she tells him.  I always get the chills when I watch this scene.

I’m not recalling this today because of a man or because I’m fleeing a bad marriage. Fortunately, I dodged that bullet.  I’m recalling this scene as quintessentially representative of those moments in life when one feels truly liberated, as if a veil has been lifted.  As well as those moments where one feels, with such certainty, that there is a greater purpose or power at play.  Some call it God, or fate or karma.

As she flees, Ouisa flashes back to a visit that she and her husband, an art dealer, made to the top of the restoration scaffolding at the Sistine Chapel.  The Italian restorer tells her, “Go ahead, slap it!”  She hesitates, but he insists.  Giddily, she succumbs to the temptation to slap the hand of God.

I saw the Sistine Chapel restoration exactly when it was halfway through in 1987.  On the right, Michelangelo’s imagery was filtered through a Vaseline like layer of soot, grime and candle wax, years of accumulated debris.  But on the left, the images were crisp, clear and vibrant.  As if overnight, Michelangelo suddenly became touted as a “colorist” in the art trades.

Life often imitates art, or perhaps art imitates life.  Years of debris, grime, cloudiness and fuzz can suddenly be lifted and everything can change.  Have you slapped the hand of God today?

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