The Double Life of Caravaggio
The Studio Theatre at RSC The Other Place was buzzing with anticipation on 9th May as Stratford upon Avon Art Society members celebrated their 60th Anniversary with a very special Founders Lecture.
Celebrated art critic, author, journalist and TV presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon gave a fascinating account of the tempestuous life of 16th century
Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Members expecting a dry scholarly lecture were instead treated to a compelling, irreverent journey back in time as Andrew used his archival research to immerse us in the historical intrigues and artistic fashions in Rome at the same time as William Shakespeare was writing his plays in England.
The revered art of the period was in a late Mannerist style typified by Michelangelo in the Sistine chapel. Remote and spectacular, it was not
designed to be understood by the poor people looking to God for hope in their desperate lives. Caravaggio broke all the rules and was the first artist to produce arresting, dark and brooding canvases of everyday life which
depicted moments from the Bible that poor people could understand.
Andrew animatedly described Caravaggio’s painting style as
“make it Real - make it Now” These pictures have now been accepted as some of the greatest in the history of art and are to be found in the famous art galleries of the world.
Sadly, the lecture had to end before we could hear more of the violent and unpredictable life of this troubled artist which culminated in his early death.
Luckily, the talk was followed by an opportunity to buy signed copies of
Andrew Graham-Dixon’s book, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane which gives the whole story in great detail. Many members quickly queued to talk to Andrew and buy copies as souvenirs of this fascinating night.