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Caravaggio Hardcover – September 21, 2010

36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Spike's opus is suspended between two eras of the technology of literacy. A well-illustrated text is given over to a chronologically structured study of the artist's life and work, while an enclosed CD-ROM provides a densely detailed catalogue raisonn . While the mass of documentation found in the electronic component of this catalog will be of considerable value to serious students of art history, the book proper does little to advance our understanding of the art or enlarge our appreciation of the significance of the artist. Sporadic efforts to relate the artist to a broad range of contemporary scientific and religious thought, while at times insightful, can also sometimes seem excessive and improbable. Consistent formal scrutiny is also too often slighted in favor of iconographic readings that range from the erudite but plausible to the recondite but strained. Catherine Puglisi's Caravaggio (LJ 4/1/99) is a superior introduction to the artist and his works, while Helen Langdon's Caravaggio: A Life (LJ 6/1/99) is a superior biographical and contextual study. Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Rossella Vodret is the Director of the Polo Museale in Rome. Francesco Buranelli is secretary of the Pontifical Commision for Cultural Heritage.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Skira; First English Language Edition edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8857204588
  • ISBN-13: 978-8857204581
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 1 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,332,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Frank Perry on December 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a truly magnificent art book, very large, very heavy, very complete. The paper on which the book is printed and on which the paintings are reproduced is very thick and very fine. The paintings themselves and most of Caravaggio's paintings are reproduced here -- mostly in bright, vivid color, many with additional close-up details -- are a delight and are awe-inspiring.
Caravaggio is one of the most magnificent of the Seventeenth Centruy Italian artists. His work is exquisite and sensuously beautiful. This is one of the most extensive catalogues of his work in book form I have ever seen. Michelangelo Merisi himself was something of a roguish, mysterious man, and his life proves to be almost as interesting as the paintings themselves. Spike here gives a fairly complete biography of Merisi who was called "Caravaggio" because he came from that small Italian town. After all, there was another Michelangelo already famous during Caravaggio's lifetime so another name was needed for him.
The text written by John spike is scholarly and straight forward, but there remain many unanswered questions about this strange artist. While the events of Caravaggio's life are vividly told, the text also explains and illuminates each painting through interesting alalyses. Spike tends to be factual and does not speculate much on the mysteries surrounding this dark figure. If you want to be as much entertained as educated on this artist, you might enjoy reading a "companion piece" of sorts: Peter Robb's "M, the Man Who Became Caravaggio". Robb's book is highly speculative, but a well-researched (and fun) boigraphy that porbes the dark side of Merisi's life that I found very convincing in its conclusions. (Not everyone does, however.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Mark Vella on January 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the comments in the other reviews that this is an excellent book. It is a shame that many of the pictures are so poor in quality. As a Caravaggio fan, I get a lot of enjoyment even from just viewing the pictures.
Now all we need is a new Caravaggio book with the pictures from Catherine Puglisi's book and the text from John Spike's book.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Hermann Luft on November 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is definitely one of the best books, if not the best, ever published on the astounding work of this controversial artist. Design and content deserve highest praise. Anyone wanting to find out in depth what this painter was all about need go no furhter.

I would have loved to have given this impressive book five stars, but I couldn't. Although the printing quality is outstanding, some of the reproductions of the paintings are definitely not. Especially several enlarged details are inexcusably blurry and unsharp. That has nothing to do with the printing process, but the inferior material used in the prepress process. It is obvious that scans that were either unsharp to start out with or of insufficient resolution were blown up too much, resulting in blurry reproduction. What's the use of showing detail when you can't really see it? In a volume of this magnitude one would expect to actually see the brush strokes in enlarged detail.

Still, this book is a gem to possess and a definite "must" for any art enthusiast. The various panitings are discussed in detail, always aimed at offering a deeper understanding of Caravaggio's intentions and masterly style. In addition, the detailed information about his character and life make for a very interesting read indeed. Perhaps never more than in Caravaggio's case is it true that "you cannot take the artist out of his work". His, for the times, highly unconventional, roughish, perhaps even revolutionary and certainly brave way of depicting reality is a revelation. To recognize his insistence on combining ethereal, mostly religious themes with down-to-earth realism is captivating. Nowhere else will you find a painting of shepherds with dirty feet and worn garments kneeling in front of the Virgin and Child.

This is, in spite of its minor shortcomings, a jewel of a book, very readable and visually impressive.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Reich Claude on October 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is the catalogue for the Caravaggio exhibition held in Rome, at the Scuderie del Quirinale until june 2010 to celebrate the fourth centenary of the artist's death. To say that it is a complete retrospective of the artist's output would be painting this book with too broad a brush, as two major paintings are missing (the Fortune Teller and the Death of the Virgin) as well as obviously some of the larger Roman church commissions such as the Conversion of Saint Paul at the Cerasi chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo or the Saint Matthew cycle at the Contarelli chapel in the San Luigi dei Francesi church in Rome.

The book itself is divided into two essays that try to evacuate the myth in the artist's biography and concentrate on his qualities as a painter, which is actually the only way to study Caravaggio's biography, since many documents are missing, especially on his youth and early years. Those two introductory essays are somewhat pompous (lengthy paragraphs on pages 27-28 are devoted to thanking and listing the various personalities who enabled the exhibition, whether art officials or politicians, who were already mentioned and thanked in the opening pages of the book...), but still bring forth some interesting elements about Caravaggio's working method and the issues of attribution. Then follow interesting and well documented individual studies of the 26 paintings in the exhibition, some very famous (the Lute Player, Bacchus, the Basket of Fruit, Sleeping Cupid...) and some less so (John the Baptist from the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas, the Conversion of Saint Paul held in a private Italian collection...). On the whole, the text is informative and didactic and tries to avoid pedantry and unnecessary erudition.
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