The renaissance was a time of art and values. Many created great works to reach closer to God and his image. Plotinus a philosopher from the 3rd century came up with an idea that all souls eventually seek to return to the One, even those corrupted by evil matter. This idea is the basis of Neoplatonism, which enjoyed a resurgence in popularity during the Renaissance. It was not seen being in opposition to Christianity. This is shown in the works of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Michelangelo believed that the artist’s function was to bring preexistent forms out of the material at hand: “the greatest artist has no conception which a single block of marble does not potentially contain within its mass, but only a hand which obeys the intelleto can accomplish that” Michelangelo could imagine a statue hidden inside a block of marble, and keep carving until his masterpiece is finished. He was one of the true master sculptors, he wanted art to reproduce nature.
Alberti argued that artistic beauty was “a kind of harmony of all the parts of a thing of such a kind that nothing could be taken away or altered without making it less pleasing; Beauty is a kind of harmony and concord of all the parts to form a whole which is constructed according to a fixed number … as the highest and perfect law of nature demands”
Michelangelo never relied on precise proportions to his figures, he chose the best parts from other statues and created the ideal beauty. The David and the Virgin are ideal types, not particular individuals. They said that the beauty of the sculpture would pass through a viewers soul and be made into something divine. Michelangelo focused on human subjects a lot in his work, cause it was once said that man is a link between God and the world. The mind contemplates the divine ideas which puts it even closer to God. Michelangelo saw the body as a reflection of the beauty of the soul. His use of the nude form was to show human beauty reflects Gods beauty. He thought the body was a cage for the soul keeping it tethered to the earth instead of rising to its divine calling. He portrayed the struggle of the soul in stone, using serpentine forms to show difficult movements. Michelangelo’s contorted figures symbolize the struggle of the soul to free itself from matter and achieve a vision of God.