Sunday, March 8, 2009


Caravaggio was one sick dude, bottom line. If I am correct in my art history he was a cheat, a murder and most appauling, most likely a pedophile. One of my fellow art students said to me once musingly, "How could you not like a guy who paintings young boys and dead fruit?" For me, it is pretty easy to not like this guy. But his art, that is a different story. Caravaggio's mastery of lighting effects, especially the use of tenebrism and chiaroscurro are probably unmatched in all of art history. This piece, the Conversion of St. Paul is one of my favorites as I was always found of this narrative and Caravaggio seems to have treated this stoy faithfully (unline many other religious based paintings of his). As the story goes, as Paul rode through the desert to Damascaus, God knocked him off his horse and blinded him in order to show His power and convert him to become a follower of Christ. Before this event, Paul was a soldier in the Roman army and his attire relects that. I also notice that Paul was painted with his eyes closed to indicate the blindness that was forced on him. A limited palette was used in this work as well as the signature chiaroscurro which has the forms roll away from the light into almost complete darkness. Caravaggio has a circular compostional design in this piece made up of the arms of Paul, the horse's head back and back leg which allows your eye to move around this entire image picking up details as his sword and the bit in the horse's mouth. The interesting thing about lighting schemes such as this one is that it is not clear where the light source is actually coming from and lends itself to a certain amount of artistic license. Caravaggio may not have been my kind of person, but you have to admit that he could paint.

1 comment:

  1. He was one sick twisted bastard. but you said it, the mofo could paint circles around most other artists.