Caravaggio or Michelangelo

Photo: Wikipedia

According to a recent New York Times article, art historian Philip Sohm has published a study arguing that Caravaggio has bumped Michelangelo from his position as Italy’s greatest artist. Caravaggio is known for his hyper-realistic style that seems to stop time and capture incredibly dramatic moments. Caravaggio is also known for his rather rebellious lifestyle. He was constantly getting into fights, murdered a tennis opponent, and was constantly on the run from the police (and you thought Kanye West was bad!). The “bad boy of Italian art” has experienced a cultural resurgence. Sohm argues that his hyper-realist style is more relevant to modern audiences and critics than Michelangelo’s godly and muscular figures. Here’s an excerpt:

Caravaggio, on the other hand, exemplifies the modern antihero, a hyperrealist whose art is instantly accessible. His doe-eyed, tousle-haired boys with puffy lips and bubble buttocks look as if they’ve just tumbled out of bed, not descended from heaven. Coarse not godly, locked into dark, ambiguous spaces by a strict geometry then picked out of deep shadow by an oracular light, his models come straight off the street. Cupid is clearly a hired urchin on whom Caravaggio strapped a pair of fake wings. The angel in his “Annunciation” dangles like Chaplin’s tramp on the high wire in “The Circus,” from what must have been a rope contraption Caravaggio devised.

Although I believe it may be a bit premature to declare that Caravaggio has overtaken Michelangelo, I do agree with Mr. Sohm’s argument. Caravaggio’s works do seem to have more relevance in the modern day than Michelangelo’s, but then again, I am biased. Caravaggio’s my favorite artist.

Read the entire article here.

March 10, 2010


Thomas Prieto

Contributing Columnist

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