Saturday, October 29, 2011

Caravaggio vs Carracci in the Cerasi Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome

Caravaggio and Carracci, both influential during the Baroque era, were commissioned by Tiberio Cerasi in the Cerasi Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo. One can say that the two artists went head to head, competing against one another to produce the “better” work of art in the Chapel.

Carracci ends up painting the Assumption of the Virgin (1600-1601) in the central alterpiece flanked by Caravaggio’s Conversion on the Way to Damascus (1601) and the Crucifixion of St. Peter (1601). There is a stark contrast between the works of the two painters. Carracci’s painting can be seen as classical baroque as brighter colors are used and the human forms are idealized and simplified. Caravaggio’s paintings are the opposite. It is much darker and the forms are much more realistic as the figures were drawn directly from life. However, both paintings are equally dramatic. Both convey a moment of high drama frozen in time and both serve as a way to promote Catholicism.

Though both works are breathtaking, one cannot help but admit that Carracci’s Assumption of the Virgin is slightly awkward. Realism seems to be sacrificed for the drama and color as it almost seems that the Virgin could not fit into composition. Ultimately it is overshadowed by Caravaggio’s much revered paintings of the Conversion on the Way to Damascus and the Crucifixion of St. Peter. As already mentioned, Caravaggio painted from life and his works are clearly darker. Through his painting of the Conversion on the Way to Damascus Caravaggio’s opinion of Carracci’s work is expressed. It can be seen that the horse’s backside is facing towards the direction of the Assumption of the Virgin. There is also an unsettling feeling as one of the front legs seems to almost trample Paul. This work depicts the moment in Acts (chapter 9) where Saul (Paul) falls off his horse and beholds a heavenly light. But there is no heavenly light depicted here. Directly opposite this painting is the Crucifixion of St. Peter. Caravaggio’s ability to convey motion in something that is forever frozen is clearly seen here. There is a sort of anticipation of what is going to happen next. This event is very close to the citizens as the crucifixion took place in Rome. The rock on the ground symbolizes St. Peter as the rock on which the church was built.

Melissa Gaballa

Caravaggio as Goliath


One of Caravaggio’s last works, David with the Head of Goliath, can be interpreted in many ways.

Firstly, it has been seen as a plea to the pope to pardon him (Caravaggio had murdered a man in 1606 in a brawl). Caravaggio’s self portrait is present here as the decapitated head of Goliath. David was modeled after his assistant, Francesco Boneri (aka Cecco del Caravaggio), and was known as the boy “who lay with [Caravaggio]” (Puglisi, C., “Caravaggio”).

At the time Caravaggio was a wanted man. There was a reward for anyone who could bring him back, dead or alive, to be tried for the young man he had killed. There is a clear analogy being depicted here. David/Boneri is the man that returns triumphantly with Goliath’s/Caravaggio’s head.

There also seems to be a sort of sexual intimacy between David and Goliath. David is not rejoicing, instead, he is rather pensive and forgiving. There is a sense of sorrow as he holds up the severed head. The intimate relationship between Boneri and Caravaggio is further emphasized by David’s sword. Placed between David’s legs in an upward direction, it seems sexually suggestive. It also mirrors the direction of David’s mournful gaze towards Goliath’s head.

Another way this painting has been interpreted is as a double self-portrait. It can be said that the assistant portrays a young Caravaggio while he is the mature adult, the present Caravaggio. He seems to say that the wild and careless life he had led as a young boy and adolescent essentially ruined his adult life and this portrait acts as a self reflection.

This painting can be seen as very much biographical. However, there can be a religious interpretation as well. This can be another composition depicting the triumph of good over evil. David is Christ while Goliath represents Satan.

David with the Head of Goliath (c. 1610)

-Melissa Gaballa

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


The midterm is divided into two parts:
Part 1: Slide Identification 50%
For this section you will be shown 25 images, for each image you must
identify the artist, title, and date
The “short list” of 35 possible images is:
Caravaggio, Doubting Thomas, c.1600
Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes, c.1620 
Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego, 1638
Velazquez, Las Meninas (Maids of Honor), 1656
Bernini, David, 1623 -1624
Giovanni Bellini, Saint Francis in the Desert, c.1475
Giotto, Crucifixion, Arena Chapel, Padua, 1305-1306
Titian,Venus of Urbino, c.1538 
Giorgione, The Tempest, c.1505
Tintoretto, Finding of the Body of St.Mark, 1562 -1566
El Greco, Burial of Count Orgaz, 1586 -1588 
Matthias Grunewald, The Isenheim Altarpiece (Closed), 1510 -1515
Cranach, The Nymph of the Spring, 1537
Holbein, The Ambassadors, 1533 
Albrecht Dürer, Melancholia I, 1514 
Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi, Annunciation, 1333
Giotto, The Last Judgement, Arena Chapel, 1305-1306
Peter Bruegel the Elder, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, c.1554 -1555 
Duccio di Buoninsegna, Maesta Altarpiece, 1308 - 1311
Michelangelo, David, 1501-1504
Michelangelo, Pieta, 1498-1499
Leonardo di Vinci, Last Supper, 1495-1497
Raphael, School of Athens, 1510-1511
Pontormo, Entombment/Deposition, 1525-1526
Parmigianino, Madonna and Christ with Angels (Madonna of the Long Neck), c. 1534
Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490-1510
Jan van Eyck, The Betrothal of the Arnolfini, 1434
Rogier van der Weden, The Descent from the Cross, 1435
Konrad Witz, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, 1444
Piero della Francesca, The Flagellation of Christ, c. 1455-1460
Massaccio, The Tribute Money, c.1427
Fra Anglico, The Annunciation, c. 1440
Donatello, Herod’s Feast, 1427
Donatello, David, c.1440-1460
Sandro Bottecelli, The Birth of Venus, 1485
Part II: Short answer comparisons 50%
There will be three comparison questions.
For this section you will be shown two (or in a few cases three) images to compare in complete sentences.
Each comparison should do roughly three things in a short paragraph:  1)Identify 2)formally analyze 3)contextualize. 
For this section you must identify the artists, work, date, and be able to locate it within a particular place/lineage (i.e. 17th century Italy or 15th century Northern Europe). You need to explain how you know its position within art history using formal analysis - discussion of perspective, color, composition stylistic components and what the comparison highlights (what do they say in relation to one another?; why were they put together?)
To study for this section re-read the chapters from the text book and review your notes from class, we will go over a series of these in class to give a sense of how to approach them in different ways. 
The key is to make your thoughts and explanations clear and concise. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

W.H Auden and Breugel

Holbein's skull

Key Images - Week 5

The Tempest. 
Date: circa 1505

Venus of Urbino 
Date: circa 1538 

Matthias Grunewald
The Isenheim Altarpiece (Closed). 
Date: 1510 -1515 

Peter Bruegel the Elder, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus Date: circa 1554 -1555 

Giovanni Bellini
Saint Francis in the Desert 
 Date: circa 1475

Albrecht Dürer
Date: 1500 

The Dead Christ in the Tomb 
Date: 1520-1522

The Ambassadors 
Date: 1533 

El Greco
Burial of Count Orgaz 
Date: 1586 -1588 

Albrecht Dürer
Melancholia I 
Date: 1514 

Finding of the
 Body of St.Mark 
Date: 1562 -1566 

Adoration of the Shepherds(Holy Night) 
Date: 1522 

The Nymph of the Spring 
Date: 1537 

Nicholas Hilliard
Queen Elizabeth I 
 Date: circa 1595 -1600 

Danube Landscape 
Date: circa 1520 -1525 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The High Renaissance

As an artist of the modern world, I tend to work with bold colors and textures, exiting with a final piece representing beauty and its high values. Many take a different approach, giving us a better sense of changing it up and being unique in other world standing out the box. Everything was for the entertainment of curious eyes and minds. It also has an equivocal space making a more interesting visual pattern than the immediately clear spatial organization provided by overlapping in a design. A touch of the exotic was introduced for the first time. From the nudes to the linear and atmospheric perspective, observations their surroundings polished the movement.  The High Renaissance, an era in the sixteenth century that broke from tradition and came about a new interest in art, the human form along with science and math. This period was inspiring to me because I believe in giving the viewer a change to do his or her own interpretation. Being that Italian artists Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci and Raphael took full control of this period they bought art to the next level. Becoming more about the creative and the different not the obverse and the normal, from rich colors to its space composition and it massive grace. Harmony was all throughout paintings and sculptures at the time. As we could conclude, art could be taking in different directions and according to my understanding is up to us the artist to state our style and owning it. 
The School of Athens By Raphael 1510-1511