Monday, July 19, 2010

"How Caravaggio saw in the dark"

A fascinating look at the recent growth in popularity of my favorite artist, Caravaggio:

But there is a more profound reason still for the fascination Caravaggio exerts over the 21st century: he carried out one of the most startling revolutions in the history of art, and one that still seems strangely modern. The visceral violence and eroticism of his work are only an aspect of the extraordinary realism he achieved. His painting was utterly different from that of his predecessors and contemporaries. It looks, to put it in modern terms, like a film noir. As David Hockney has put it: “He invented a black world that had not existed before, certainly not in Florence or Rome. Caravaggio invented Hollywood lighting.” And that resemblance may be no accident.

Much more vivid detail in the article itself, including discussion of a technique possibly used by Caravaggio to project images of his models onto the canvas that fell afoul of the anti-science Inquisition, with the Church banning books and burning heretics as a result.

Caravaggio lived quite a life – scandal! Murder! Gay sex! Someday Hollywood is going to tackle this one with (I hope) a director who can do it justice. Meanwhile, I should go see if Derek Jarman’s intelligent and fascinating film about Caravaggio is on DVD – it’s been years since I saw it.

“How Caravaggio saw in the dark” (The Telegraph)


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