The work of Michelangelo, celebrated by his contemporaries as the culminating point of Renaissance art, was also his dramatic conclusion. His sculptures, his paintings and his architecture were admired beyond all limits, considered as superior creations to those of the ancients and above nature itself. But Michelangelo was still alive when the controversy began, between the passionate exaltadores of his art and his detractors, who condemned the lack of measure and naturalness, opposing his strength to the grace and elegance of Rafael's art. Lodovico Dolce in 1557, called monotonous the nudes of Michelangelo compared to the beauty of the works of Raphael. He was criticized also by the Italian church, during the second half of the six hundred, since his works were not related to the new norms of the Council of Trent. From the middle of the eighteenth century, critics were changing until they reached total adoration for their art.

The frescoes in the vault of the Sistine Chapel represent the most perfect vision of his Neoplatonic belief, which affirmed that the beauty of the human figure has a divine character; also in this same belief is the meaning of the tombs of the Medici, where the lower zone symbolizes the material world as opposed to the architecture illuminated by the dome of the New sacristy, which represents the spiritual world.

As a painter, he had a profound influence on the later Mannerist generation. Tintoretto is influenced by his drawing, the anatomical forms of bodies and their torsions, foreshortenings and forced postures.

His project of the Vatican Basilica in which he worked for almost twenty years of his life simplifies the project he devised for Bramante itself, although it maintains the Greek cross structure and the great dome. Michelangelo created spaces, enveloping functions of the main elements, especially the dome, the director element of the whole.

As regards sculpture, his David represented not just a return to Greco-Roman antiquity models but, for the first time, a work that went beyond them. Many of his works are unfinished ( non finito , in Italian), but must be differentiated between those in which the author, intentionally, left parts undone, such as the tondi Taddei and Pitti , of those others that did not end due to external factors.