Monument to Caravaggio on the Fenilla beach
ROME, September 26. / Corr. TASS Vera Shcherbakova /. September 29 marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of the artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). During his short life, he managed to leave a creative legacy that determined the development of art, not only painting, for centuries.
The art historian, one of the leading researchers of the fine arts of the 17th century, Nicola Spinoza, is convinced that Caravaggio has significantly ahead of his time and has become a modern artist, more understandable to descendants than to his contemporaries.
“One is the one as his contemporaries saw him. Caravaggio was a creator who went against the general tradition of painting of his time, so he was often not understood by his colleagues in the workshop, but he was received by a very sophisticated public, both among religious leaders and the secular aristocracy. He was an artist for the elite (because of excessive realism in works on biblical subjects, churches often refused them.) But everything changed in the twentieth century, after the war, Caravaggio's work began to be viewed as modern realism. Its echoes were most common in Italian neorealist cinema. De Sica, Visconti, Rossellini and even Pasolini have Caravaggio's motives, “the expert said on Sunday in an interview with a TASS correspondent.
Caravaggio was “discovered” at the 1953 exhibition held in Milan. He turned out to be an artist of the 17th century much closer to modernity than many artists of the 20th century. And then comes the fashion for Caravaggio. “The first stage is Caravaggio, who is appreciated by the elite, the second stage is the reading of Caravaggio in a modern way, whose work influenced cinema, and the third phase is the fashion for Caravaggio, when a legend is born around his character, rebellion, life and death,” says Spinoza …
Realism of life
Caravaggio came to Rome from the north. He knew ancient sculpture, Michelangelo, the work of his predecessors – the Venetians, Titian, the Lombard school. “He is an artist of a great culture, which he used in a modern way,” says Spinoza. At first he is young and full of hope, his paintings are bright. The style began to change from 1600, when the artist began to use chiaroscuro. Spinoza believes that his life experience significantly influenced his creative development. “He has dark, pessimistic, tragic motives. And few people accept this vision. His religious vision does not correspond to the official Catholic concept, but closer to the original evangelical.
Caravaggio's work became an expression of the concept “art as life and life as art”, which became most understandable already in the twentieth century. “Real success comes to an artist with an understanding of the modernity of Caravaggio,” concluded Spinoza.
The Caravaggio myth
In the twentieth century, a legend about the life of Caravaggio appeared, which gave rise to different interpretations. One of the latest attempts to find a clue to the life and death of Caravaggio was made by the actor and director Michele Placido, who is preparing for the release of the film “The Shadow of Caravaggio” (L'ombra di Caravaggio). He calls Caravaggio a pop star and compares it to Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), whose fate and death left many secrets in the 20th century. “There is a lot in common in their biography: Pasolini, like Caravaggio, came from the provinces, lived in Rome, visiting the green and poor neighborhoods, the inhabitants of which are described in his works. his models were prostitutes. He turned them into Madonnas on his canvases, “- said Placido.
He tells the story of Caravaggio in a detective manner. Placido, who wrote the script together with Sandro Petralia and Fidel Signorile, offers his own version of what happened to the brilliant artist. “This film is based on the real story of a great artist, whose life is marked by many black spots. And we do not fully know how he died, where. There is information about the last days of his life: he received a pardon from the Pope after he was convicted for murder and was sentenced to death, which, in fact, pushed him to escape from Rome. his body. There are different assumptions, but no evidence. And we come up with our version, “- said Placido.
Place of death and symbolic coffin
The most widespread legend about Caravaggio was the legend of his untimely death. It was believed that in his wanderings, after a forced flight from Rome, to which he dreamed of returning, the artist died on the Fenilla beach, between the towns of Orbetello and Porto Ercole (south of Tuscany). Over time, this unconfirmed version became local folklore. A symbolic monument to Caravaggio was erected in a pine forest near the sea. “The eternal memory of Michelangelo Merisi. The life of Caravaggio died out here in 1610,” reads the inscription on the monument, erected to mark the 400th anniversary of his birth.
There is a symbolic coffin of Caravaggio in the Porto Ercole cemetery. Several years ago, the remains of the artist were searched in local common graves. He is believed to have died of malaria in a seaside town hospital. There is a stylized monument to Caravaggio in the town itself, now a seaside resort and port for luxury yachts.
Another art historian Tomaso Montanari believes that the Caravaggio myth gave birth to a whole modern industry of exhibitions and various kinds of products, often pseudo-original, and often counterfeit or speculative. In his opinion, this is the price for popularity. “Caravaggio, like Giotto (1267-1337), became the greatest reformer of art history. At the center of his creative search is the human body. He offers a new, sometimes brutal view of it. He portrayed human bodies without filters, as he saw” – says the researcher.
Caravaggio never signed his paintings (with one rather curious exception in Malta) and did not make copies, although information about them periodically appears.