Caravaggio Essay, Research Paper
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, usually referred to as Caravaggio after his birthplace near Milan, is one of the most important artists in the history of Western art. From his early teens into his twenties he was trained in Milan as an apprentice in the studio of a painter. He went to Rome in the early 1590s to enter the studio of a prominent painter. He lived a brief and dramatic life, and his work was sometimes shocking to the people of his time.Caravaggio was considered a rebel against convention, both in his art and in his behavior. In 1606 he had to leave Rome after killing a man over a wager on a tennis match. Even though his life was short, his painting style had enormous impact on artists throughout Europe. Caravaggio produced many religious paintings that shocked his patrons because of his depiction of Christ and other religious figures as common people in everyday settings. He spent the last four years of his life wandering from city to city in Italy and died at the age of 39 from malaria.About the ArtThe Cardsharps is a genre painting–a painting showing an everyday activity of ordinary people; it is considered one of Caravaggio’s early masterpieces. It was sold to an influential man, Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, who gave Caravaggio protection in his palace and introduced him to other important people in Rome.In the painting we see two young men playing a card game. One of the players is studying the cards in his hand while a man looks over his shoulder and signals the other player across the table. The cheat is reaching behind his back in order to retrieve a card that will enable him to win the game. The young man on the left appears to be innocent and completely unaware of how he is being tricked by the other two figures. The gestures and facial expressions give viewers an understanding of the deception and loss of innocence about to occur. Additional InformationCaravaggio is one of the most important artists who lived during the period referred to as Baroque. The word baroque (bar-oak’) was originally a Portugese word meaning irregular, contorted, or grotesque, and was used in a derogatory way to describe the art of the seventeenth century. Today we use the term to refer to the art and architecture produced in Europe from about 1600 to 1700. The ability to arouse emotion in the viewer, often through dramatic means, is characteristic of Baroque art. The suggestion of movement, contrasts of light and dark, and communication of feeling through gesture and facial expression were typical during this period. Works tended to be highly naturalistic, although they often contained symbolic or moralizing meanings. Artists were highly skilled at drawing and painting and could present the human figure from every possible angle. The lighting in some Baroque paintings appears to come from spotlights shining on the action taking place in the painting while other areas seem to disappear into the unlit shadows. The artists employed such contrasts of light and dark for greater truth-to-life, and also to express such ideas as good and evil, life and death.
What is Baroque art? Formally, Baroque art applies to the era in art history that dominated most of arts of the seventeenth century-the enlightenment. The era is differentiated from earlier periods by the currents of individualism and nationalism – currents which are fundamentally a product of the ideas emerging as a result of the development of printing around 1450. In general, Baroque artwork is elaborate, energetic, and passionate-whatever that means. The use of curves and detail are characteristic of the movement. Baroque is often associated with dynamic and rich images of textured, flowing robes. Although the period is also strongly associated with religious art — much of its impulse given by the Catholic Counter-Reformation. But not all Baroque work is related to any church religious symbolism. Most of what We will show you here is not religious. The term Baroque by the way can also be used with reference to art of any time or place that shows the sorts of qualities We will talk about here. In the period called Baroque those qualities dominated the art of the era. If there was as moment an instant in time where the break with the renaissance occurred, it was here in this work by Caravaggio just 6 years after that Tintoretto. Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaeus (1598) Caravaggio broke the mold. Never before had the world seen a Christ depicted in this way. A disheveled, haloless, well-fed, beardless man sitting in a completely natural and convincing space amongst men with weather beaten faces, red noses, and torn clothing. Gone completely is the artificiality of the last image. Here the table is set, but the food is familiar; the apples are worm eaten – no idealist painted this image – the leaves are dying. The conversation is animated – contentious – the man in the foreground seems set to leap from his chair. And that chair – it isn’t even fully in the picture. It is cut off – deliberately by Caravaggio to bring the action out of the picture and into our space. There is one hell of a lot that is new and for viewers accustomed to renaissance conventions – this image is disturbing – subversive.Caravaggio’s Death of a Virgin (1606)If that image seemed shocking. This one went completely into the stratosphere. This is Caravaggio’s Death of a Virgin. What was Caravaggio up to? Notice the theatrical use of light and shade. Light falls onto the subject from the side – like a spotlight . Look at the despair in the figures gathered around the body. Most of the image is covered in the gloom of haunting darkness. There is little that is ideal here – but most radical of all – the model Caravaggio used to create his image of the dead virgin was in fact, the swollen body of a murdered prostitute dragged from the Tiber river in Rome. There’s no wonder Caravaggio’s patrons got twitchy. He knew what he was up to. This is clearly political art. Caravaggio lived hard and died young.