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Why was Michelangelo so important?

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Quick Answer

Michelangelo Buonarroti created numerous masterpieces that had a part in defining Western civilization and that have been admired and studied for centuries. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

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As one of the most famous artists of the High to Late Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo viewed himself as a sculptor. Still, the paintings he created gained him equal recognition. His considerable talents also touched on the fields of architecture and poetry. His works of incredible quality and scale continue to exert great influence on art and culture to the modern day.

The most renowned works of Michelangelo include the statue "David" as well as his ceiling fresco in Rome’s Sistine Chapel. The latter work took nearly four years to complete, and during this time, he endured much physical pain due to the strain on his neck that came from painting above his head in a standing position, according to a biography by Andrew Graham-Dixon, cited in Smithsonian magazine. Although Michelangelo was directly commissioned by Pope Julius II to create the Sistine Chapel masterpiece, the artist regarded the assignment with suspicion. Because he didn't consider himself to be a painter, he thought his adversaries may have been scheming to set him up for a colossal failure, Graham-Dixon suggests. Instead, Michelangelo created a masterpiece that has been reproduced countless times and has inspired awe for more than 500 years.

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