Art: Out Of Grime, a Domain of Light

Grime, a Domain of Light Cleaning the Sistine Chapel reveals a new Michelangelo

The most ambitious and controversial art-restoration project of the 20th century, the cleaning of Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, is in its eighth year, with five years still to go. All the wall lunettes and three of the nine Old Testament scenes on the ceiling are finished, freed of 478 years of accumulated grime, crude repaints and successive coats of darkened glue size applied as a varnish by 17th and 18th century restorers. A quite different Michelangelo, one whose intensity and beauty of color matches his long-acknowledged grandeur as draftsman and iconographer, emerges. The vault of the Sistine is now...

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