Tag: Caravaggio

My Art Adventure

Posted September 12, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Art / 9 Comments

While normally I don’t write blog entries about myself, I feel inclined to share some experiences I’ve had recently that do link to the overall theme of this site. I was in Spain and France for a holiday, which was an experience in itself but there was a few cultural activities that were done that I want to talk about.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

First stop was the Museo Reina Sofía, which is dedicated to 20th Century Spanish art. This meant a lot of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Recently I did a few posts about Picasso and the main reason I went to this museum was to see his masterpiece Guernica. I have to admit seeing this in real life was an experience in itself, there is no pictures out there that really do this painting justice and I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of it anyway. It was awe inspiring, I’m not sure if all the Spanish history leading up to this picture made this an experience or if it’s the painting itself. But there are no words to describe this encounter for me.

A bonus was the Surrealist wing of this museum. There is something about surrealism that I love, it’s weird and wonderful. This wing consisted on a lot of Salvador Dalí paintings, which were exciting to see, but it also included a painting by my favourite surrealist Rene Magritte. Magritte has always been my favourite surrealist, his works are so distinctive, recognisable and often very witty. The painting I saw wasn’t one of his more famous pieces but it was still exciting to see. The particular painting was his 1930’s piece Pink Belles, Tattered Skies.

Rene Magritte - Pink Belles, Tattered Skies (1930)

Museo del Prado

The Del Prado is the Spanish National art’s Museum which features a lot of Velázquez, Francisco de Goya, Titian, Rubens and Bosch as well as a huge selection of Romanesque, Gothic and Early Renaissance paintings. I was fortunate enough to see my favourite Titian picture; Sisyphus (1548-1549) but the highlight of this museum and possibly the trip was the two Caravaggio paintings. Most readers will know my love of his work, so it was exciting to finally see some of it. On loan from the Vatican; was The Entombment of Christ (1602–1603) and from Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; David with the Head of Goliath (1607).

Titian - Sisyphus (1548-1549)

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

We were lucky enough to go to the Guggenheim during Aste Nagusia (an annual festival in Basque country) and experienced this museum with live Jazz music playing. The music definitely enhanced the experience. While I’m not sure how I feel about modern art, especially Abstract; it was interesting to see some Pollock and other bizarre pieces.

Musée du Louvre

Probably the most visited and even the largest museum in the world, but it’s interesting to see that most of the people go to see the Mona Lisa or the Venus de Milo. While it’s good to see both, there is so much to see and it would take you days to go through it all. The Louvre has a lot of sculptures and decorative arts to look at as well as paintings by the greats including Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and of course The Death of the Virgin (1606) by Caravaggio. While there was some amazing art at the Louvre, it was so spread out the experience wasn’t as enjoyable as the other museums.

Caravaggio - The Death of the Virgin (1606)

It’s been quite an adventure and later I will tell you more, I just wanted to share with you the great museums and art I saw along the way. There really is nothing like seeing the art in real life, it was a real eye opener.


Spirituality and The Arts

Posted May 21, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Culture / 0 Comments

I just read an article from Time-Online called ‘The Spiritual History of English’, which talks about a book by Andrew Thornton-Norris of the same name. The book bases its arguments on the T.S Eliot’s premise that “culture of a people as an incarnation of its religion”. According to Thornton-Norris, literature is the result of liberalism in politics. He also claimed that previously “tradition prevented art or the individual – and relativism in belief” and as for modern art “Now almost every word that is written is a manifesto, a statement, a theology or anti-theology, rather than an unselfconscious work of art, a contribution to the tradition or communal enterprise, as it was in the Latin Classical tradition.”

I know spirituality has played a huge part in the Arts (eg. Caravaggio or any painter back then, John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Divine Comedy) in the past but does it play much of a part now?


Nec Spe, Nec Metu (Without Hope, Without Fear)

Posted February 22, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Art / 3 Comments

Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608)

A Religious art war was raging, between the Counter-Reformation and Protestants. Protestants believed that art was a distraction or an idol and should not be in the churches, one of the main defences for the Counter-Reformation was that not everyone can read and deserve to learn about religion too, thus the purpose of the art. The Counter-Reformation Church searched for authentic religious art with which to counter the threat of Protestantism, and for this task the artificial conventions of Mannerism, which had ruled art for almost a century, no longer seemed adequate, this was the beginning of the Baroque art movement. The Baroque style was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church which had decided that the arts should communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s intensely emotional realism and dramatic use of lighting had a formative influence on the Baroque school of painting. Caravaggio grow up been told to be a painter you need to paint like the Mannerists (by teacher and mannerist Simone Peterzano), though for Caravaggio he couldn’t paint pictures of paradise as he had no knowledge of these things. Caravaggio painted what he knew to be real.

Calling of Saint Matthew (1600)

With paintings like Calling of Saint Matthew, you see nothing of Jesus but his arm calling out to Saint Matthew. “Jesus saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom house, and said to him, “Follow me”, and Matthew rose and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9). If you look at the painting you can see it’s a dark and gritty place which you would not see if this painting came from the Mannerist era.

Caravaggio lived by the motto “Nec Spe, Nec Metu” (Without Hope, Without Fear) he believed himself a sinner and it came through in his paintings. Probably the best painting to reflect that would be “David with the Head of Goliath”. In this painting Caravaggio is the head of Goliath; it is very rare for a self portrait to depict the painter as the villain. On the sword that David is holding is inscribed H-AS OS, in Latin: Humilitas occidit superbiam (“Humility kills pride”)

David with the Head of Goliath (1610)