The Caravaggio Project

1024px-Caravaggio_Judith_Beheading_Holofernes
Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1598

Before I started my undergrad, I never understood art. I never understood the appeal, the intricacies, why certain strokes of paint across the canvas were better than others, or why any of those things were important.

My discovery of Caravaggio changed all of this. So much so that I changed my singular major to a dual one with intent of heading to graduate school to get my MA in art history.

Which would have happened if I did not have an irrational fear of learning a new language, as you do.

When I went to Rome in 2005, I made it my mission to see all the Caravaggios available in the city, since the damned place is lousy with them. This sparked a bigger idea of tracking down and seeing, in person, all the Caravaggios available in the world. This is how The Caravaggio Project was born, and to date, I’ve seen Caravaggios in five or six countries and two continents, with many future trips planned around this theme.

I decided to keep track of the project online so that I can better figure out what I have and have not seen, plus I need to feel that certain sense of accomplishment. The chronology of Caravaggio’s work is from Wikipedia, but I plan to keep verify the entries once I get the data all established. It also helps that there has been a resurgence of interest in his work, such as the recent travelling exhibition, Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome and books such as The Lost Painting.

The listing for The Caravaggio Project isn’t complete yet, but should be soon.

If you’re wondering why Caravaggio, actually it’s pretty easy: He was a conflicted man that worshipped his own pleasures under the umbrella of the Catholic church. He was a hedonist, lecherous, bisexual, and narcissistic (many of his paintings feature his own likeness in steed of a model). He was the Byronic hero several centuries before Byron. His life was that of passion and torment, and the fact that he had an artistic ability that was almost supernatural is actually secondary to the man himself. He lead a tragic life and died quite young. If one could be a Caravaggio groupie, that would be me.

Judith Beheading Holefrenes is probably my most favorite of his paintings, though I’m fond of his Bacchus series as well. I picked up a nice print at the Borghese Gallery of Judith Beheading Holefrenes that used to hang in my bedroom before it was nearly destroyed due to mold and damage from improper storage while I was in-between places.

I thought it sent a nice message to current and future suitors.

2 Comments

  • Michelle B

    9 April 2012 at 10:40

    I really like Caravaggio as well. What is it about art history… I had to take 2 surveys for my museum studies minor ,and I just loved both. As both classes were in the days long before the internet, that was quite a challenge. A final exam of writing essays on 6 works of of the 400 or more we were required ot memorize… ah!

    Yet I also really wanted to add the art history major. No problems with learning another language. But since I already had 2 majors and a minor and I didn’t want to drop any of them… sigh.

    My own personal love is for the Dutch Renaissance. One of the reasons I chose Amsterdam for my 30th birthday. Loved seeing a real Vermeer in person.

    On the plus side, here it is 20 yrs later and my little cousin is graduating from my alma mater next month. With a BA in art history! Yay!

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