National Gallery puts its money on Caravaggio (by James Adams)

Hype is to the art world what a horse is to a carriage: it makes the wheels go ‘round. But when National Gallery of Canada director Marc Mayer, speaking at a media conference in Toronto Wednesday, described an upcoming exhibition at his Ottawa institution as being “a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” it wasn’t an exaggerated flight of fancy.  Because the exhibition in question, Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome, is truly a very big deal, dare one say a blockbuster, featuring 10 paintings by the controversial Italian Old Master (1571-1610) whose stormy life (he killed a man in 1606), virtuosity, bravura chiaroscuro and powerful narrative drive have bewitched artists, filmmakers, playwrights and authors for decades.  The Caravaggios are going to be flanked by 50 works by sundry European Caravaggisti (the term given to those Baroque artists influenced by Caravaggio) including such notables as Artemisia Gentileschi, Jusepe de Ribera and Simon Vouet.    Opening June 17 and running through Sept. 11, the show will be the first-ever Caravaggio exhibition in this country, and the second-largest display, ever, of his paintings in North America – a feat bested only by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Caravaggio showcase in 1985 which featured about 35 of his works…. READ MORE ON “THE GLOBE AND THE MAIL”

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