The Creation of Adam
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Creation of Adam is a section of Michelangelo's fresco Sistine Chapel ceiling painted circa 1511. It illustrates the Biblical story from the Book of Genesis in which God the Father breathes life into Adam, the first man. Chronologically the fourth in the series of panels depicting episodes from Genesis on the Sistine ceiling, it was among the last to be completed.
God is depicted as an elderly bearded man wrapped in a swirling cloak while Adam, on the lower left, is completely naked. God's right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God's, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26). Another point is that Adam's finger and God's finger are not touching. It gives the appearance that God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam and Adam is receiving. The pink backdrop behind God is in the shape of a brain. Michelangelo may have used this symbol to show God's plan of creation which had not yet been revealed to the first man. Also, Michelangelo may have used this symbol to show God is just an invention of Men, being Adam the creator of God.
The inspiration for Michelangelo's treatment of the subject may come from a medieval hymn called Veni Creator Spiritus, which asks the 'finger of the paternal right hand' (digitus paternae dexterae) to give the faithful speech, love and strength.