Nov 7, 2011

REVIEW | Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome | Kimbell Art Museum | Ft. Worth Tx.

Michelagelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Sick Bacchus, 1593-94, oil on canvas
One of my favorite art museums to visit is the Kimble art museum in Ft worth Texas. There I had the good fortune to be able to visit during the Caravaggio and his followers in Rome exhibit.  Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born in 1571, although there is some debate of the actual date of his birth, and died in 1610 during which he is known for his dramatic oil paintings that he produced while in Rome.


Michelagelo Merisi da Caravaggio, The Cardsharps, 1595, oil on canvas
The idea behind Caravaggioand his followers in Rome is exactly what the name suggests. The show is organized into categories of the styles of painting that Caravaggio created. Within each room that hosts a particular style, his followers, and their paintings, which are directly influenced by him, are arranged so that the relationship is apparent. This is so prevalent that it seems that many artists are directly “ripping off” his paintings. These styles of paintings include Music and Youth, Cardsharps and Fortune Tellers, Saints, and The Sacred Narrative. An example of how two piece share similar characteristics can be viewed in The Cardsharps and The cheat with the ace of clubs.
Georges de La Tour, The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs, 1630-34, oil on canvas

All these pieces were displayed in the beautiful steal and concrete building of the Kimble art museum. The environment is very open and delivers a great clash of modern design against the classic artwork exhibited on its walls. Upon close and prolonged viewing of specific artwork you may have a different experience. While the building is made from steel and concrete the walls that art is hung on is a form of polished stone with texture eaten away from the rock.  Assuming your vision is focused enough combining this with the hardwood floors you lose the sense of modernism and are taken back to a time when these pieces may have been originally hung upon walls. During my visit to this show the museum was putting on an event for children where they were dressed in period piece clothing and allowed to run around the museum. This gave a whimsical appeal that added to the classic nature of the exhibit.
Viewing Wall, Kimbell Art Museum

The main goal of the exhibit is to educate the public about this amazing artist and how he influenced a generation of painters. Their pieces mimic his in style where forms emerge from almost darkness in dramatically lit scenes. They follow his subject matter by creating pieces with similar figures in them. His followers also copy his technique of having his figures posed in dramatic life like positions. This was inspired to Caravaggio by his habit of painting directly from live models with no pre planning. All of these points were met without a doubt. Caravaggio’s pieces did stand out slightly amongst every other artists work. His work seemed to show a slightly greater control of color and light when it came down to detail in fabric, feathers, and skin tones. Most notably many of his works  figures skin were cast in dramatic lighting making them look extremely pail as if the light was florescent, like in Saint John the Baptist in the Wildernes, while Caravaggio’s followers seemed to maintain a more natural lighting scheme.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, 1604-5, oil on canvas

In conclusion Caravaggio and his followers in Rome is extremely successful and very well put together. It is constructed with a very straightforward goal and achieves it without a doubt. What you get is exactly what the name suggests Caravaggio and his followers. 


-Nathaniel Record

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