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Posted December 29, 2010
Better for the Lecture Hall than for the Art Lover's Library
That Michael Fried is a learned scholar is well known and probably understated. His lectures here for the National Art Gallery are rich in intellectual research and challenge for discovering the motivations and comparisons of the work of Caravaggio. And while there is much to be learned form this hefty book, the information seems a bit heavy for the reader who wants to further explore the genius of the great Italian painter. The portions that approach Caravaggio's enhancement of the concept of the self portrait is fascinating as is his drawn out study of the artist's 'obsession ' with violence. The problem with the book is that in the end it feels less about Caravaggio than about the period in which he painted and the influences that both preceded and proceeded painter - even to the amount of visual space allotted to the works of Caravaggio. The quality of the book is excellent in design and in production and no one will argue that the information within the covers is instructive. For those who are already committed admirers of the artist and are looking for fresh information about this controversial artist, this book will probably seem too heavily weighted in academic glossolalia. But for the university or art school library this is a worth addition. Grady Harp
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