The Angel behind the Window

There is a legend that, when Michelangelo was carving a sculpture of an angel for the Basilica of San Domenico, a small boy asked what he was doing. The artist replied that he saw the angel in the marble and carved till he set him free.

I say legend because I can't find a source for the quote. Though in a letter to fellow Florentine Bennedetto Varchi, Michelangelo explained that the sculptor works by removing what is superfluous. Not as poetic but a similar thought. 

I am working on a new play now, and for me, the dynamic seems slightly different (not that that surprises me). I think of the work, the angel, hidden behind a window covered with ice. Some parts of the ice are thicker than others. In the beginning, nearly all is obscured. I don't have the vision of a Michelangelo. But I can still see through the blurry frame that something interesting might be there. 

As I write, I chip away at the ice. Each draft, a little bit of the ice falls away and a bit more of the work shows through.Though sometimes, when I chip at the ice on one part, another part freezes over again. Other times, what I think is ice is just my breath fogging the cold window. It can be very frustrating. And I never eliminate all the ice and get to see the work as it should be. 

But I keep trying. I know the angel is there behind the window, waiting to be revealed. 

Comments 4

 
Katherine Gregor on Saturday, 30 July 2016 20:10

What a lovely post. I wish you look in uncovering and discovering your angel.

What a lovely post. I wish you look in uncovering and discovering your angel.
Stephen Evans on Sunday, 31 July 2016 00:54

Thank you - it tends to be a long process for me but here's hoping!

Thank you - it tends to be a long process for me but here's hoping!
Rosy Cole on Sunday, 31 July 2016 23:38

This may not be helpful - I'm not a playwright and we all have our own ways of working - but I find it gives clarity and focus to link the initial inspired idea to a title even before you begin. It may change and develop, but a foundation is laid.

The legend you mention - and the quote widely attributed - I believe may have come from The Agony and The Ecstasy, rather than from the lips of the sculptor himself. It's fifty years since I saw the film, so I could be wrong :-)

This may not be helpful - I'm not a playwright and we all have our own ways of working - but I find it gives clarity and focus to link the initial inspired idea to a title even before you begin. It may change and develop, but a foundation is laid. The legend you mention - and the quote widely attributed - I believe may have come from [i]The Agony and The Ecstasy,[/i] rather than from the lips of the sculptor himself. It's fifty years since I saw the film, so I could be wrong :-)
Stephen Evans on Monday, 01 August 2016 03:32

Thanks for the thought - and the Agony and The Ecstasy - hadn't thought of that - you could be right!

Thanks for the thought - and the Agony and The Ecstasy - hadn't thought of that - you could be right!
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