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Caravaggio Hardcover – September 21, 2010
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Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gorgeous book, not to be missed. Text and the reproductions are illuminating and aesthetically rich.Published 9 months ago by Daniel G. Madigan
A beautiful book, well illustrated, of the works of the greatest painter of all time (in my opinion)Published 12 months ago by Robert L. RWesly
Read the life history of Caravaggio (Michaelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio) to truly understand the times and influences if this artist. Read morePublished 15 months ago by John M. Kegley
I am a little confused by some of the prior reviews about picture quality, I am able to see the cracks in the paint and the individual brush strokes on the close ups, I think... Read morePublished 16 months ago by L. Johnson
I am a college student, and I am always looking for cost-effective gifts for my friends. I purchased this for a friend who is pursuing art, and she loved it. Read morePublished on May 12, 2014 by M
excellent idea, matter and presentation. there should be more like these. anyone into discovering visual art can begin with this.Published on January 20, 2014 by Amanbir Singh Grewal
I was told that the publisher is one of the best for color reproductions of art. The images are beautiful, and the book is well done.Published on January 9, 2014 by Lara C.