Views on the famous painting by Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam. A look at the inspiration for the painting and examination of some of the parts and why the paintings is still considered one of the best works of art in history.
Everybody knows the image. Two fingers almost touching, coming from two stretched arms from opposite directions. The paint could be a bit old and cracked. It is among the most famous images in the world, iconic in fact. But where does it really come from. Well, the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican in Rome. There, it is part of Michelangelos amazing fresco covering the whole ceiling. Part of this ceiling includes The Creation of Adam, painted there by Michelangelo around the year 1511. The work illustrates the biblical story from the book of Genesis where God, the father, breathes life into Adam, who becomes the first man.
The composition draws on many of the images traditionally used in Christianity. God is depicted as an old bearded man dressed in a cloak. Adam, on the other hand, is depicted completely naked in his position to the lower left of God. Adams arm is extended in a way that mirrors that of god, thus serving to remind us that man is created in the image of god, a fact told in the book of Genesis. However, while their arms are extended towards each other, their fingers do not touch. Rather, god is reaching for Adam, bestowing life upon him, while Adam is purely in the receiving end. While he is giving, it is also worth noting that the pink shape behind god is in the shape of a human brain. It could thus be said to reflect part of the gift given to Adam. Some have further claimed the cloth worn by god to have the shape of a uterus and the green scarf hanging out to possibly symbolize an umbilical cord.
However, the most famous part by far of the painting is definitely the area where the finger of God and Adam almost touch. This painting within the painting is what is most remembered and reproduced. This image alone is timeless and redone in so many variations that we cannot possibly even begin to list them. It is in and of itself, among the most famous images ever created. Of course, with the full bodies of God and Adam, it is put into context, but the cutout of their two hands alone has reached icon status. And while it is out of a very famous fresco in a very famous ceiling in a very famous chapel in a very famous little state, the painting within the painting is what is remembered.
It also appears all over popular culture. Just take the movie poster from hit Hollywood movie E.T. which has the hand of E.T. almost touching the hand of a boy. It has appeared in everything from Family Guy to Bruce Almighty, even to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is in truth an iconic image, one recognized by everybody. But the real one can be found, as an image within the image, in Vatican City in Rome.