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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Caravaggio And His Followers In Florence

The MatchmakerImage via Wikipedia

"The dark voice of reality"... is not the title of an unedited album by the Doors, but one of the most appropriate definitions ever given to the work of Michelangelo Merisi, also called Caravaggio. Indeed, Merisi's approach to life was that of a contemporary rock star. His short life, turbulent and dissipated, characterized by violence, riots and general excess (he was also condemned to death for murder, even if he was not executed) make him a perfect example of a "cursed artist", compared to which Mick Jagger and Ozzy Osbourne come across as little more than beginners.

Caravaggio, though, was much more than that. One of the major representatives of the Baroque, he was probably one of the greatest painters of all time. His ability to represent reality in all its rawness, along with the characters of his works, their faces distorted by emotions, deformities, seduction and fury, make him a real "man of our times". The strong contrast between light and shade and the gloomy and nocturnal atmosphere of his works still upset and attract real art lovers as well as amateurs from all over the world.

However, not everyone, at that time, understood the greatness of Caravaggio. Florentines in the first place (painters and non) remained indifferent to his work, regardless of the fact that the Grand Duke Cosimo II de Medici, a member of the most famous Florentine family, demonstrated his appreciation for his work on more than one occasion. After all, Florence has always been a conservative city and its citizens have certainly never been willing to be taught by a "foreigner". Therefore, even if the most important families of the city did appreciate his works, the Florentine artistic community remained anchored to the "academic" painting tradition in fashion at that time.

As far as we know, Caravaggio never went to Florence. He wanted to, but did not make it on time. Regardless of this Florence is, after Rome, the city where most of his and his followers' works are found. This is why the exhibition "Caravaggio and his followers", organised to remember the 400th anniversary of his death, is an unmissable and unique event. From the 22nd of May to the 17th of October 2010 Florence will host nine of the most important masterpieces of the Milanese painter and tens of his followers' works, which will be spread among Palazzo Pitti, Uffizi and Villa Bardini.

The exhibition will include paintings such as "Bacco", "Amorino Dormiente", 'Medusa', "Sacrificio di Isacco", "Cavaliere di Malta" and the "Cavadenti", displayed at the Galleria Palatina and the Uffizi gallery, and the "Ragazzo morso dal ramarro", displayed at the Villa Bardini. These are incredible paintings that revolutionised painting in the 1600's and still impress the viewers 400 years later with their modernity and emotional impact. Along with them, the exhibition will display "Ritratto di Maffeo Barberini" and the "Ritratto di Cardinale", both of which are paintings that have only recently been attributed to Caravaggio.

These last two paintings will be the greatest surprise for the public as these works have only recently been attributed to the Milanese master and are therefore previously unseen by viewers. Along with the works by Merisi, viewers will enjoy a wide range of works by the so called "Caravaggeschi authors" (including Spadarino, Gerrit Van Honthorst, Artemisia Gentileschi) who were inspired by the same intuitions as their master. These are painters who found in Florence the passionate support of local families, such as the Medici, who adopted the style and atmosphere of Caravaggio and who sometimes met him in person, but who cannot be called real disciples because Caravaggio was always too involved in his chaotic life to find the will or the time to transfer his knowledge to others. It actually seems that Caravaggio never liked the idea of having followers and imitators. Apparently, he was not the easiest of men to get along with....

However, the real reason why Caravaggio is still so successful in 2010 is his ability to mix the sacred and profane, beauty and curse, splendor and squalor, paintbrush and sword. The reason why he is still so beloved by contemporaries lies in his ability to avoid academic or symbolically rich language and to talk to everyone through the most powerful emotions common to all mankind: rage, hate, love, light and shade. This is why we feel so close to him. The shady artist from many centuries ago and us, always in search for real, concrete and authentic emotions out of the glittering fictions of our time.

We rent two apartments in the very center of Florence, (by two-minutes walk you are in the Duomo square) equipped with all the comforts : air conditionning, tv-sat and everything you need to cook your own meals. A nice cheap way to visit Florence!
Florence Holiday Apartments



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