Simon Schamas 'Power of Art: Caravaggio'

Prominent and talented artists are always in a focus of common people’s interest and attention. Painters, who create fabulous works, are believed to be heaven envoys on Earth. Their admirers may romanticize artists’ lives and personalities. It is so pleasant to think that only an artist with a God’s sparkle may create masterpieces. However, not every genius is a saint. Simon Schama's “Power of Art: Caravaggio” is a movie that lifts the veil on the one of the greatest Italian painter’s life. A psycho, villain, murderer, sinner - that is how one can fairly name Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. On the other hand, after learning the truth about him, one can better get the message of his works and evaluate his profound understanding of human and divine nature and faith.

Caravaggio never did anything the way it was supposed to be. He did not try to convey a holy essence through a human body but rather turned humans into gods. In his canvases he showed a real life and death drama, but not a decorated loveliness. For instance, in the self-portrait “Sick Bacchus” his god of joy, beauty and art is heavily ill, holding a rotten grape. His models were poor and miserable people from the streets of Rome. According to the rumors, he took a drowned whore to paint “The Death of the Virgin”. Moreover, the very idea that Madonna died as a human seemed insulting. All his works were painted in a different way than it was accepted, but this frankness and rebel conveyed the very essence of faith. He challenges the canons in the “The Decapitation of St. John the Baptist”, where a lily-white maiden, an even-handed soldier and an athletic handsome man commit a vicious crime. The point of his art was not to decorate but to show the truth.

Works by Caravaggio may not bring pleasure as they are strikingly frank and have no romantic covering. On the contrary, they are stunningly down-to-earth, and make the viewers feel close to the scenes depicted. One may not admire Caravaggio, but it is impossible to stay indifferent and not to believe in what is going on in his paintings.

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