Celebrating Caravaggio: First Of The Bad-Boy Artists

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of the Italian artist Caravaggio, believed by many art lovers to be the greatest painter of all time. Rome, the city where he was both hailed and rejected, is hosting a major exhibition of masterpieces from all over the world showcasing the first of the bad-boy artists. Exhibition visitors are plunged into near-total darkness — only the canvases are lighted: Lute Player, Cardsharps, Judith and Holofernes, the Conversion of Saul and many more. Claudia Palmira Acunto is admiring a painting of a young Bacchus, the god of wine. “I’m just marveling at the sensuality of the skin,” she says, “and the contrast of textures from the fruit to the wine to the fabric; it’s chiaroscuro.”
Caravaggio invented this groundbreaking technique of light and darkness, with a single, powerful ray of light coming from outside the frame. In his time, the norm in painting was a vague and diffuse light. Caravaggio’s contrast of shadow and light produced a totally new intensity and stark realism. Art scholar Stefania Macioce points out the modernity of these works. “If you think of the age, 16th century, there is same way to use the light like modern photography,” she says. “It’s fantastic…. READ MORE ON NPR.ORG


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