Caravaggio and the Creation of Modernity

Caravaggio and the Creation of Modernity

by Troy Thomas


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Undeniably one of the greatest artists of all time, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio would develop a radically new kind of psychologically expressive, realistic art and, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, would lay the foundations for modern painting. His paintings defied tradition to such a degree that the meaning of his works have divided critics and viewers for centuries. In this original study, Troy Thomas examines Caravaggio’s life and art in relationship to the profound beginnings of modernity, exploring the many conventions that Caravaggio utterly dismantled with his extraordinary genius.
            Thomas begins with an in-depth look at Caravaggio’s early life and works and examines how he refined his realism, developed his obsession with darkness and light, and began to find the subtle and clever ambiguity of genre and meaning that would become his trademark. Focusing acutely on the inherent tensions, contradictions, and ambiguities within Caravaggio’s paintings, Thomas goes on to examine his mature religious works and the ways he created a powerful but stark and enigmatic expressiveness in his protagonists. Lastly, he delves into the artist’s final hectic years as a fugitive killer evading papal police and wandering the cities of southern Italy.
            Richly illustrated in color throughout, Caravaggio and the Creation of Modernity will appeal to all of those fascinated by the history of art and the remarkable lives of Renaissance masters.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781780236766
Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
Publication date: 10/15/2016
Series: Renaissance Lives Series
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 8.60(w) x 5.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Troy Thomas is associate professor of humanities and art history at The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg.

Table of Contents

1 Early Life: Milan-Rome, 1571-99
2 The Modern Art Market; Early Patronage
3 Early Roman Works, c. 1592-9
4 A Stark Reality: Life and Mature Roman Works, 1599-1606
5 The Divine and the Human
6 Ambiguity
7 Oppositional Meanings
8 The Social Embedded in the Religious
9 The Created Personas of the Self-portraits
10 Scepticism, Eroticism, Irony, Wit
11 Darkness and Light
12 The Science of Art
13 The Religious Orders
14 The Reception of Caravaggio’s Art
15 Life in Souther Italy, 1606-10
16 Reconciliation and Spirituality
17 Late Works, 1606-10
Conclusion: Caravaggio and the Creation of Modernity
Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements

What People are Saying About This

Babette Bohn

“Thomas’s excellent new book provides an accessible but sophisticated examination of Caravaggio as an artist, focusing in particular on his mature Roman paintings. Building on previous scholarship and also offering some intriguing new interpretations of Caravaggio’s remarkable pictures, Thomas argues that the ambiguity of the artist’s approach to his subjects, along with his novel realism, psychological penetration, and dynamic immediacy, make Caravaggio a truly modern artist. Filled with interesting observations about Caravaggio’s pictures, this book examines Caravaggio’s uncomfortably human questioning of faith in his religious pictures, while situating the artist in the context of his time and arguing for the unprecedented modernity of his creations.”

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