At WTC Oculus, Very Close Encounters with the Genius of Michelangelo

In this Michelangelo painting, the Prophet Jeremiah seems "up close" enough to reach out to a viewer. Many of the figures in these reproductions are larger than life, and nearly the size that the artist painted them on the chapel ceiling. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 03, 2017

Ringed by high-end retail and the usual crush of commuters and tourists, the centerpiece of the Oculus at the Westfield World Trade Center is now a sanctuary for the quiet contemplation of artistic genius.

“Up Close: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel” features 34 reproductions from the famous frescoes that are nearly as large as the Vatican originals. On view until July 23, they offer a rare chance to study and reflect on individual Biblical scenes painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.  (“The Last Judgement,” completed in 1541, is reproduced almost life-size at 40 feet tall.) Here, you are not looking up at the Sistine Chapel’s 44-foot-high ceiling but gazing at these masterpieces from a distance of inches.

I was drawn to the juxtaposition of visitors against these life-size reproductions, and the video slideshow, above, is from photographs taken recently at the show. — Carl Glassman

“Up Close: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel” is on view in the Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center, 185 Greenwich St., through July 23; Mon. to Sat., 10 am to 9 pm; Sun. 10 am to 7 pm. Tickets are $20; $15 for students and seniors. (The show is viewable for free from the periphery.)