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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Review of the Michelangelo Tarot Deck

This article was written by Barbara Moore on December 14, 2012
posted under Michelangelo Tarot

Summary

The Michelangelo Tarot makes spectacular use of Michelangelo's techniques and body of work to create a stunning deck faithful to the Rider-Waite-Smith model. It is a beautiful and readable deck for anyone who loves the works of this artistic master.

In-Depth Review

Michelangelo's style is complex and philosophical. It is intellectual and celebrates the "idea" of whatever is portrayed, like gesture drawings that spontaneously capture the truth or essence of something. What I mean by that is that the work focuses on the moment between immobility and movement, illuminating a spiritual energy that is purely essence and is not yet spent by the actual gesture. It is in this moment that the energy is captured in stone (or paint) and is exhilaratingly palpable. Unlike a gesture drawing, Michelangelo's work is extremely polished and sophisticatedly finished.

Guido Zibordi strove to capture Michelangelo's style by using recognizable images from the Master's body of work as well as by utilizing his methods. Tarot is a dance of the balancing of opposing forces, much like Michelangelo's work. Guido does an excellent job of capturing the feel and style of Michelangelo's art. In this deck, there is a nice use of recognizable images. Some are clearly copies, for example the Oracle of Delphi for Justice. Others are more of an inspiration than a copy, such as the use of the Lybian Oracle for the High Priestess and his sculpture, the Pieta, as Death.

While this is a typical Lo Scarabeo art deck (which means very lovely images and high quality art), it is a little atypical in that it is a nice Rider-Waite-Smith style deck. It is not a clone but anyone familiar with the RWS images will easily recognize which card is which. The images are clear and usually, but not always, show a single figure. For example, the 6 of Wands shows a man holding six wands. One wand is topped with a laurel wreath, representing victory, and his feet have wings, reminiscent of Nike, also representing victory. The only caveat I'll include is that many of the women in the deck are strangely muscular.

The court cards have familiar emblems, such as salamanders on the Wands. The Queen of Wands has her sunflower and her familiar cat is etched onto her throne. The kings have astrological symbols: Leo for Wands, Taurus for Pentacles, and Pisces for Cups. I could not see one on the King of Swords, although he does have butterflies on his crown.

Because of Guidos application of Michelangelo's capturing the moment in between, there is a yearning in the Lovers that is usually absent from most decks. I love the Chariot, which is filled with determination and movement in a card that is usually filled with immobility. The Moon intrigues me, showing a woman clutching a crescent moon. A sleek black dog is sniffing the butt of a sleek white dog. The white dog appears to be sniffing the woman's butt. A very strange butt-sniffing circle. I will leave it to you to work out the symbolism of that one. 

Deck Attributes

Name of deck: Michelangelo Tarot

Publisher: Lo Scarabeo

ISBN: 9780738733623

Creator's name: Guido Zibordi Marchesi

Artist's name: Guido Zibordi Marchesi (and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni)

Name of accompanying booklet: Michelangelo Tarot

Number of pages of booklet: Booklet is 63 pages; 14 in English

Author of booklet: Guido Zibordi Marchesi

Available in a boxed kit?: No

Reading Uses: General

Artistic Style: In the style of Michelangelo

Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot

Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Yes

Does it have extra cards?: No 


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