Recent Discovery Not a Caravaggio, Experts Say

In this “year of Caravaggio” — the 400th anniversary of the controversial artist’s death has seen a major exhibit in Rome, as well as the possible discovery of what’s left of his mortal remains — there was news again last week when the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported on a newly found painting by the late Italian Renaissance master called “The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence.”

However, numerous experts have disputed the attribution, and today the Vatican has withdrawn their claim.  Vatican Museums head Antonio Paolucci now says the painting is “most likely a copy of an original by a Caravaggio-influenced artist.”      

Caravaggios do turn up occasionally.  A few years ago, Jonathan Harr wrote a best-seller, The Lost Painting, about the rediscovery of one of the artist’s works in Ireland in 1990.    

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was fairly obscure until the rekindling of interest by Roberto Longhi and others in the 20th century.  He is now viewed by some as essentially the first modern artist; many are intrigued by his troubled personal life, the details of which are mostly preserved in ancient court records, while others are fascinated by the use of strong contrasts of light and dark and the homoerotic elements in many of his paintings.       

At any rate, if you’re interested in reading about Caravaggio, follow this link to a previous post which lists some of Greensboro Public Library’s books on the great artist.

Caravaggio Bumps Michelangelo from “Top of the Charts”

In a brief follow-up to a recent post, check out this neat article from the New York Times analyzing the rising popularity of the Italian Renaissance artist Caravaggio (1571-1610).  Author Michael Kimmelman attributes increased interest in Caravaggio to identification of the latter with the modern anti-hero (the great artist had a very sordid personal life) and the accessibility of his style to current tastes. 

If you’re interested in art in general, please remember we’ve got plenty resources for you at Greensboro Public Library, especially at the Hemphill Branch Library on West Vandalia, as well as at the Central Library in downtown Greensboro.

Have the Bones of Caravaggio Been Discovered?

Italian archaeologists are claiming to have discovered the remains of the last great Italian renaissance artist, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571–1610), whose influence is credited with inspiring the Baroque painting style of the late 16th-18th centuries. 

Caravaggio’s paintings are especially known for their dark, brooding shadows and the contrasts of dark and light which are known as the chiaroscuro style. 

But in addition to being an artist of legendary talent, Caravaggio apparently had a rather sordid personal life and seems constantly to have been in trouble, fighting brawls, fleeing from one place to another, and even being accused of murder.  

Some are convinced in fact that the great Caravaggio himself was murdered, though the Italian archaeological team led by Georgio Gruppioni, which claims to have found his remains, believes they have documentation — in the form of a death certificate — that he died of natural causes.

Comparison with the DNA of Caravaggio’s descendants will be employed to prove or disprove the identity of the remains, which were originally buried at San Sebastiano and later moved to a crypt in a church in Porto Ercole.  The bones were apparently in an unmarked ossuary.    

However, British art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon is skeptical that the bones are really those of the famous artist.  “In my view, there’s no way in hell they can say they have found Caravaggio’s remains,” he says. “What’s the proof? They found a headstone saying: ‘Here Lies Caravaggio’?”  And he claims the death certificate is fake.

Nonetheless, everyone seems to be in agreement that Caravaggio was a towering figure — Graham-Dixon calls him “one of the two or three greatest and most original painters ever to have lived.”

If you’d like to learn more about Caravaggio, Greensboro Public Library has a few books which may be of interest, including The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr, Caravaggo:  Painter Of Miracles by Francine Prose, M:  The Man Who Became Caravaggio by Peter Robb, and Caravaggio by Catherine Puglisi.

Winter Series Art Exhibit at Central Library

In 2008, the Homeless Prevention Coalition of Guilford County released totals from their annual “Point in Time” count of the homeless. Guilford County had a total of 981 persons counted. That total was down from 2007’s count which showed a total of 1014, but numbers are expected to be higher for the 2009 count due to the economy and current housing troubles.

For several years, the Central Branch of the Greensboro Public Library has worked with a program to help come to the aid of the homeless and hungry in Greensboro. The program is called Food Not Bombs, and according to their website, “was formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1980 by anti-nuclear activists. Food Not Bombs is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to nonviolent social change. Food Not Bombs has no formal leaders and strives to include everyone in its decision making process. Each group recovers food that would otherwise be thrown out and makes fresh hot vegetarian meals that are served in outside in public spaces to anyone without restriction.” Each Monday night, folks gather outside the Central Library on Church St., or inside if the weather is bad, and are served meals.

In order to better serve this community, a dialog began with library staff members and the homeless and in 2007 the Winter Series started. This program gave these patrons a chance to let staff know what their needs are. As a result, on Monday nights, along with the meals, there have been movie nights, meetings with local government officials, health screenings, and most importantly, understanding.

The Central Library is currently featuring an art exhibit with pieces by some members of the local homeless community. Paintings, jewelry, poetry, walking sticks, and drawings are on display at the Central Library at 219 N. Church St. The display will remain up through the month of March. Please check out http://winterseries.wetpaint.com/for a full account of the past Winter Series. For more information contact Jennifer Worrells at Jennifer.worrells@greensboro-nc.gov.

Death of Andrew Wyeth

The American realist painter Andrew Wyeth (b. 1917), perhaps best known for “Christina’s World,” has died at 91, MSNBC reports

The library has a number of books on Wyeth.  If you’re interested, try some of these:  Unknown Terrain:  The Landscapes of Andrew Wyeth by Beth Venn and Adam D. Weinberg; Wyeth People:  A Portrait of Andrew Wyeth as Seen by His Friends and Neighbors by Gene Logsdon; The Art of Andrew Wyeth by Wanda M. Corn; Andrew Wyeth:  Dry Brush and Pencil Drawings, a loan exhibition organized by the Fogg Art Museum 1963; Andrew Wyeth:  Temperas, Watercolors, Dry Brush, Drawings, 1938 into 1966, an exhibition; Christina’s World:  Paintings and Pre-studies of Andrew Wyeth, text by Betsy James Wyeth; Andrew Wyeth:  The Helga Pictures, text by John Wilmerding; Andrew Wyeth:  Close Friends, introduction by Betsy James Wyeth; and In the Footsteps of the Artist:  Thoreau and the World of Andrew Wyeth, photographers, James A. Warner and Margaret J. White.

Also, Camio, a database in NC Live, includes some images of Wyeth’s work, as well as that of many other artists.