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The controversial decision to finish Michelangelo work

Way back in 1515, Pope Leo X commissioned Michelangelo to build a facade for a church. However, due to costs the project was never completed and all that remains are sketches and a wooden model. Now the mayor of Florence wants to initiate a project to finish the work, which is sparking controversy among residents and art historians.

“The Italians have been doing this forever. Both the façade of Florence Cathedral and the façade of the Basilica of Santa Croce — two of the major monuments of Renaissance Florence — were completed in the 19th century,” he said. “They’re still considered Renaissance churches and they look better for it. People are happy to see buildings completed.”

But Anna Hudson, an art history professor at York University, said completing the façade would change the church’s relationship with its parishioners and local residents.

“There’s a question of what’s worth preserving and what’s not,” she said. “It would change the building, its legacy, and would result in the erasure of another thing. The existing façade, or lack thereof, has at this point come to represent that church.”

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Story: Kenyon Wallance, Toronto Star | Photo: Dreamstime

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