Friday, February 25, 2011

Caravaggio, until May 15 in the Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome

An anonymous portrait of Caravaggio

Apparently Caravaggio was a very naughty boy, much more than previously known. An exhibition of his art and recently discovered and restored documents, which include his police record, offers further proof of this famous artist's roguish dark side.

Caravaggio appears to be almost compulsive in his lawlessness. For instance, the man was weapon-obsessed, sporting a sword, dagger, and pistol at various times. Twice jailed for carrying arms without a permit and known for beating strangers in late-night fights and pelting police with rocks.

The new evidence clarifies some of the details of the notorious brawl in which Caravaggio killed a man. The 1606 brawl during which the artist killed one Ranuccio Tommassoni, leading the artist to flee Rome and causing Pope Paul V to issue a death warrant, the documents reveal that the fight was over a gambling debt, and not a woman, as some accounts have suggested. The showdown was arranged in advance, with Caravaggio squaring off against four foes alongside a gang of three of his own comrades, including a friend who was a captain in the Papal army. One of Caravaggio's supporters was also wounded in the battle, thrown into prison, and subsequently put on trial.

Detail of a police report on parchment regarding a complaint that Caravaggio was illegally circulating in Rome with the sword and a dagger pictured.

One document on display features a drawing done by a judge of a sword and dagger seized from Caravaggio, who was arrested for carrying weapons without proof of permit. All this had been unknown until skilled archivists were able to examine the original records from Caravaggio’s decade in Rome. These records—police blotters, judiciary decisions, eyewitness accounts in the first person—were bound into ten volumes, each with up to 1,500 parchment pages of hand-written reports in Italian and Latin. The problem was that the parchment pages were self-destructing because the highly acid ink was eating up the pages. To save them, the archives director made a public appeal for sponsors. Thanks to articles in the Italian financial daily Il Sole-24 Ore, a handful of private sponsors were found, and the costly, time-consuming and painstaking restoration work could begin.

Other incidents include the written testimony of a waiter at the Moor's restaurant who had the bad fortune to be working when the irascible master painter came in for lunch with some friends:

"I brought them eight cooked artichokes, four cooked in butter and four fried in oil. The accused asked me which were cooked in butter and which fried in oil, and I told him to smell them, which would easily enable him to tell the difference. He got angry and without saying anything more, grabbed an earthenware dish and hit me on the cheek at the level of my moustache, injuring me slightly... and then he got up and grabbed his friend's sword which was lying on the table, intending perhaps to strike me with it, but I got up and came here to the police station to make a formal complaint"

Caravaggio also apparently cut a hole in the ceiling of his studio to accommodate some of his large paintings. Since he was a renter, this did not sit well with his landlady. After she sued the artist, Caravaggio and a friend decided to revenge themselves by hurling rocks at her window.

Apart from all of this, Caravaggio managed to to find time to paint many a masterpiece.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ben Schonzeit, until March 5, Elaine Baker Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida

Ben Schonzeit, one of the old school original Photorealists is exhibiting this month at Elaine Baker Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida.

With over 40 years of painting behind him, Ben is now widely recognized for his strong , photorealistic images of opulent flowers set against dramatic backgrounds. While being highly photorealistic, Schonzeit’s paintings also bend our perception by combining real and surreal imagery. His flower paintings are symbolic of the old with the new, and a general theme of passing time. Schonzeit’s works are settings for dreamscapes, full of melancholy, romantic irony, and intense color.

Lake Placid Bouquet, 2011 , Acrylic on polyester, 72 x 96 inches

Aalto Umbria, 2011 , Acrylic on linen, 66 x 78 inches

Peachy Peonies, 2011 , Acrylic on polyester, 66 x 44 inches

Middle Rose, 2010 , Acrylic on canvas, 44 x 48 inches

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kevin Sloan, until February 2, Gardner Colby Galleries, Naples, Florida

Kevin Sloan's exhibition at Gardner Colby Gallery in Naples, Florida has just closed, however it's well worth getting acquainted with his paintings.

Kevin was recently featured in American Art Collector, to read the article Click Here

Tropical Tableau, acrylic, 48 x 44 inches

Modern Wilderness, acrylic, 44 x 36 inches

Audubon's Tea, acrylic, 30 x 36 inches

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Google's art project: The Grand Tour from the safety of your computer.

Google's art project goes live as of today, to visit the website Click Here

So far Google has photographed 17 of the great museums of the world which can be visited online virtually moving around the museum’s galleries, viewing more than a thousand artworks. Some works are viewable in high resolution, as well as information being available on the artist and the work.

Eeach institution has nominated a single piece as a “Gigapixel Artwork”, which Google has photographed “using super high resolution or ‘gigapixel’ photo capturing technology”. It produces an electronic image containing 7 billion pixels, allowing viewers to study the work in microscopic detail.

For those who cannot travel, I suppose it does give you some idea of what certain museums are like. However nothing is as good as viewing artworks in the flesh. Even that is not guaranteed in museums nowadays where there is the disturbing trend where people wander up to a masterpiece, view it through their camera/Iphone, take a snap and move on without actually looking at it directly with their eyes, only through a screen.