Today was unbelievable, but I’ll be honest, it had its moments.
Pro: We started off the day with our best discussion yet – oriented around Caravaggio’s Bacchus (1595) , Amor Vincit Omnia or “Love Conquers All” (1602-03) and The Martyrdom of St. Matthew (1599-1600). Con: we had class twice today, and our discussion lasted forever. Pro: we had a really nice break after class. Con: I had an appointment with our TA and didn’t have time to do anything, much less eat. Pro: we got to go to the Quirinal! Con: our TA, leading myself and Denver, got us lost on the way to the museum and we had to all-but run to make it remotely on time. Pro: CARAVAGGIO! IN REAL LIFE! IN FRONT OF ME! Con: everyone being “CARAVAGGIO! IN REAL LIFE! IN FRONT OF ME!” Dude, German tourists are so rude, they shushed us after a single word, they would literally shove you out of the way, and on top of it all, they would stand right in front of the paintings, listening to their audio tours and frequently, repeatedly set off the motion detectors. UGH.
But seriously, Caravaggio was unbelievably, indescribably amazing. Most of you know that I am a bad art-lover and think museums are bo-ring and that most paintings that have been removed to a museum can actually be best experienced through a high quality reproduction (aka digital slide). I know, I’m a terrible person. But Caravaggio – oh, Caravaggio. I was so incredibly impressed with the texture in his work. Not his painterliness, but the representation of different textures – velvet, silver, fur, hair, lace, leather and his skin, it was tangible, fleshy, inviting and his feathers!, oh gosh. These feathers are unbelievable – particularly the ostrich feather in the cap of the gentleman in The Cardsharps – it’s light, fluffy, soft – you can almost feel it tickle your skin. The most frightening thing was viewing the painting from an oblique angle (I was standing in front of the Bacchus and happened to look over) and it looks as if the plume was actually stuck onto the painting – as if it were multimedia art, a real feather, applied to the canvas. Like I said, unbelievable.
* Oh yeah, for those of you who didn’t know, Caravaggio’s real name is Michelangelo. Go figure.