Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane

( 5 )

Overview

“This book resees its subject with rare clarity and power as a painter for the 21st century.”—Hilary Spurling, New York Times Book Review
In a bravura performance, Andrew Graham-Dixon explores Caravaggio’s staggering artistic achievements, delving into the original Italian sources to create a masterful profile of the mercurial painter. This New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of the Year features more than eighty full-color ...

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Overview

“This book resees its subject with rare clarity and power as a painter for the 21st century.”—Hilary Spurling, New York Times Book Review
In a bravura performance, Andrew Graham-Dixon explores Caravaggio’s staggering artistic achievements, delving into the original Italian sources to create a masterful profile of the mercurial painter. This New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of the Year features more than eighty full-color reproductions of the artist’s best paintings.

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Editorial Reviews

Neil MacGregor
“Caravaggio has rarely been seen in such depth and such relief as in this marvellous biography.”
John Richardson
“Andrew Graham-Dixon brings the bad-boy genius of the 17th century to life as vividly as if he were one of today's pop stars.”
John Russell
“I have never known an art critic in London who responds so well, year in and year out, to the challenge of subjects that cover the whole range of Western art.”
Economist
“[Graham-Dixon] is an entertaining art historian. He took ten years to come to terms with a very obdurate and highly original painter. Time well spent.”
Joseph Luzzi - Bookforum
“Graham-Dixon's biography brilliantly illuminates the life of an artist who was no less shadowy than his canvases—a man capable of both committing murder and creating ineffable beauty.”
Peter Carey
“A thrilling lesson in the art of seeing, a sensual exploration of the shadows of Caravaggio's sometimes violent but always Christian world, a detective story with a highly satisfying ending.”
Anthony Quinn
“Criticism that manages to be skeptical and humane, dryly witty and deeply serious ...”
Robert Hughes
“Andrew Graham-Dixon is the most gifted art critic of his generation.”
Michael Dirda - Washington Post
“Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane reads like a historical-swashbuckler-cum-detective-story while also providing an up-to-date introduction to some of the most admired paintings in Western art.

Ann Levin - Associated Press
“Graham-Dixon combed the criminal records of the era to glean extraordinary details about the artist’s run-ins with the law. He skillfully evokes the social and religious context of turn-of-the-17th-century Italy.”
Michelle Jones - Dallas Morning News
“[Graham-Dixon’s] achieved a masterpiece of his own: an informative, fresh account of the painter’s life and death. Even more impressive are the author’s powerful and accessible analyses of Caravaggio’s paintings, commentary that leaves readers eager to see the pieces at the heart of the story.”
Hilary Spurling - New York Times Book Review
“This book [resees] its subject with rare clarity and power as a painter for the 21st century.”
Michael Dirda
Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane reads like a historical-swashbuckler-cum-detective-story while also providing an up-to-date introduction to some of the most admired paintings in Western art…Graham-Dixon writes with verve and clarity about the work as well as the man and his times.
—The Washington Post
Hilary Spurling
Given the near-total lack of documentary evidence and the elusive nature of [Caravaggio] himself, it is hardly surprising that fictional techniques have penetrated in some ways further and more surely than the sterner disciplines of art history. Graham-Dixon…ably combines the two in Caravaggio. He makes the most of Italian criminal records…to provide graphic glimpses of the young Caravaggio squabbling, fighting, trading threats and insults, smashing plates in restaurants and slashing opponents with knife or sword. The only other available source is the art, to which Graham-Dixon brings the kind of imaginative and emotional intelligence that gives life and point to painstaking research.
—The New York Times Book Review
Bookforum
Graham-Dixon's biography brilliantly illuminates the life of an artist who was no less shadowy than his canvases—a man capable of both committing murder and creating ineffable beauty.— Joseph Luzzi
Washington Post
Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane reads like a historical-swashbuckler-cum-detective-story while also providing an up-to-date introduction to some of the most admired paintings in Western art.
— Michael Dirda
Associated Press Staff
Graham-Dixon combed the criminal records of the era to glean extraordinary details about the artist’s run-ins with the law. He skillfully evokes the social and religious context of turn-of-the-17th-century Italy.— Ann Levin
Dallas Morning News
[Graham-Dixon’s] achieved a masterpiece of his own: an informative, fresh account of the painter’s life and death. Even more impressive are the author’s powerful and accessible analyses of Caravaggio’s paintings, commentary that leaves readers eager to see the pieces at the heart of the story.— Michelle Jones
New York Times Book Review
This book [resees] its subject with rare clarity and power as a painter for the 21st century.— Hilary Spurling
Library Journal
New publications (e.g., Michael Fried's The Moment of Caravaggio and John T. Spike's Caravaggio) continue to appear in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Caravaggio. This one takes a more biographical than art historical approach to the controversial artist. Art critic and BBC television art series presenter Graham-Dixon (Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel) firmly places Caravaggio in his milieu right from the beginning of his life, discussing the important connection between his family and the family of one of the heroes of the Battle of Lepanto, which took place eight days after Caravaggio's birth. Further reading suggestions (English and Italian), an index, endnotes, and maps are included. VERDICT Recommended for special collections, art faculty and students, and interested general readers. (Final images not seen.)—Nancy J. Mactague, Aurora Univ. Lib., IL
Kirkus Reviews

Expansive life of the masterful yet mercurial artist.

Even though he apprenticed and served in several studios, Caravaggio (1571–1610) painted according to his own rules, updating Bible stories with his own vision of violence. He was an autodidact unencumbered by current artistic customs, and he painted what he saw in the pious realism fostered by Carlo Borromeo, reviving the empathic visualization of Francis of Assisi and the Sacro Monte of the Piedmont region. Regressing to the art that preceded the High Renaissance, Caravaggio established an entirely new genre of stark realism and visceral detail. He never did preliminary sketches and painted only from carefully set up models; he was unable to paint from imagination or memory. His virtuosity, mastery of chiaroscuro and ability to make the sacred profane established him as the ideal for painters as varied as Rubens, Velasquez, David and even Picasso, who invoked his use of realism as he paintedGuernica. British art critic Graham-Dixon (Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, 2009, etc.) brilliantly points out how Caravaggio's paintings reflected a violent man in violent times, and self-portrait insertions in many of his paintings reflect the progression of the artist's agonies. As the artistic capital of the world, Rome quickly recognized his talent, providing many patrons to bail him out after his frequent violent encounters. His capacity for trouble mirrored his art, "a series of lightning flashes in the darkest of nights." Because he wrenched so much from the depths of his soul into his paintings, it's no wonder he lived such a short life.

An impressive web of biography, social history and art history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393343434
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/12/2012
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 374,902
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Graham-Dixon has presented six landmark series on art for the BBC, including the acclaimed A History of British Art, Renaissance and Art of Eternity, as well as numerous individual documentaries on art and artists. For more than twenty years he has published a weekly column on art, first in the Independent and, more recently, in the Sunday Telegraph. He has written a number of acclaimed books, on subjects ranging from medieval painting and sculpture to the art of the present, including Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane,Art: The Definitive Visual Guide, and Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 6, 2011

    Kindle download is $21.89 ???

    Why such a difference?

    5 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    This book is by far the most comprehensive, thoughtful and well-

    This book is by far the most comprehensive, thoughtful and well-written book on Caravaggio, his works and the society in which he lived.  It was a pleasure to read and quite an easy read, at that.  My husband, whole he loves Caravaggio's work, was less than enthused about reading his biography.  However, even he found this book enjoyable as well as incredibly informative.  We both appreciate Graham-Dixon's meticulous research and historically contextual additions to the story of the life of this brilliant and complex artist. A super book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    What is up with this price?

    This book is not going to appeal to the general public. Why make it so expensive for the Nook, especially the first edition Nook which doesn't show the pictures well?

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 24, 2013

    A great book about a great artist!

    CARAVAGGIO is a detailed biography of an incrediable artist. His was a frantic existence, with an incrediable legacy. There are copies of most of his paintings, all of them described in the text. The author tries to dispell the rumors, and delivers the facts. A treat for art lovers, historians, and general readers. Caravaggio was an complex person, and his paintings show this. I recommend this to anyone, even to persons looking for a entertaining read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    I'd love it but...

    why should I pay more to have it on the Nook, which is my property than it costs bo buy it hard cover... not likely. I'll read something else.

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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