Undeniably one of the greatest artists of all time, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio would develop a radically new kind of psychologically expressive, realistic art and, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, would lay the foundations for modern painting. His paintings defied tradition to such a degree that the meaning of his works have divided critics and viewers for centuries. In this original study, Troy Thomas examines Caravaggio’s life and art in relationship to the profound beginnings of modernity, exploring the many conventions that Caravaggio utterly dismantled with his extraordinary genius. Thomas begins with an in-depth look at Caravaggio’s early life and works and examines how he refined his realism, developed his obsession with darkness and light, and began to find the subtle and clever ambiguity of genre and meaning that would become his trademark. Focusing acutely on the inherent tensions, contradictions, and ambiguities within Caravaggio’s paintings, Thomas goes on to examine his mature religious works and the ways he created a powerful but stark and enigmatic expressiveness in his protagonists. Lastly, he delves into the artist’s final hectic years as a fugitive killer evading papal police and wandering the cities of southern Italy. Richly illustrated in color throughout, Caravaggio and the Creation of Modernity will appeal to all of those fascinated by the history of art and the remarkable lives of Renaissance masters.
About the Author
Troy Thomas is associate professor of humanities and art history at The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1 Early Life: Milan-Rome, 1571-99 2 The Modern Art Market; Early Patronage 3 Early Roman Works, c. 1592-9 4 A Stark Reality: Life and Mature Roman Works, 1599-1606 5 The Divine and the Human 6 Ambiguity 7 Oppositional Meanings 8 The Social Embedded in the Religious 9 The Created Personas of the Self-portraits 10 Scepticism, Eroticism, Irony, Wit 11 Darkness and Light 12 The Science of Art 13 The Religious Orders 14 The Reception of Caravaggio’s Art 15 Life in Souther Italy, 1606-10 16 Reconciliation and Spirituality 17 Late Works, 1606-10 Conclusion: Caravaggio and the Creation of Modernity References Select Bibliography Acknowledgements Photo Acknowledgements Index
What People are Saying About This
“Thomas’s excellent new book provides an accessible but sophisticated examination of Caravaggio as an artist, focusing in particular on his mature Roman paintings. Building on previous scholarship and also offering some intriguing new interpretations of Caravaggio’s remarkable pictures, Thomas argues that the ambiguity of the artist’s approach to his subjects, along with his novel realism, psychological penetration, and dynamic immediacy, make Caravaggio a truly modern artist. Filled with interesting observations about Caravaggio’s pictures, this book examines Caravaggio’s uncomfortably human questioning of faith in his religious pictures, while situating the artist in the context of his time and arguing for the unprecedented modernity of his creations.”