One of my favorite scenes from Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic film L’Avventura occurs near the beginning. A woman walks into an art gallery in downtown Rome where she overhears an American couple fawning over the work of a local artist. “He really knows how to use paint,” the wife suggests. “Yes, lots of power and vitality,” the husband agrees. The woman then passes into another room, where two Italian men stand inspecting a work by the same artist. These two appear considerably less impressed. “This one needs to starve a while longer,” one suggests. In Rome, art is a serious business – has been for centuries. The empire may be lost, yet Rome remains Caput Mundi – the Capital of the World. Why? One word – art.
Centuries of heritage remain alive in the paintings and frescoes of Rome’s churches and palaces. For three years, I lived in Rome, immersed in this milieu. Like so many others who have spent time in Rome, I grew to love Italian art – it’s history, drama, and (dare I say) vitality. Drawing on this experience, I am going to soon kick off a new series in which I will dive deeper into the works of the artists I most enjoy. I will be starting with a series of posts about Caravaggio, an artist who though celebrated in his time, came to be regarded as a minor figure in the pantheon of late-Mannerist, early-Baroque painters. It has been only in the last several decades that scholars have begun to discern the subtle and profound influence his style has had on contemporary art. After Caravaggio, I will be writing about other artists (most likely Bernini, Tinteretto, and Michelangelo, but we’ll see). I hope you enjoy the series and drop me an e-mail at [email protected] if there’s any work or artist you’d like to read about here.