Friday, November 4, 2016

Caravaggio to the Rescue!

-By Greg Ruth


This will be a short post this week. By the time you're reading this I'm down at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, with Ethan, as we represent for INDEH. As I write this now, it's the Tuesday before it all gets going, and I'm here in the studio in the hills of Western Massachusetts... with absolutely nothing to say. In both points of time, our entire small town community is actively trying to get through a terrifically horrible and sudden tragedy that struck down one of our local kids here. I am sort of hollowed out with grief over it. It's made drawing impossible and writing even more so.


So as I wander about aimlessly, I tripped over a recent book I previously ordered, but hadn't gotten to getting into. This week, I have been diving, if not falling happily into the dark and ostentatious world of Michaelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio via Taschen's absolutely mind-bendingly luscious and expertly realized monograph, CARAVAGGIO: THE COMPLETE WORKS. Words have no place in his paintings and there are barely few on earth to describe how preposterously good this book is for we, the Caravaggifans. (I know it's not a word, and I just made it up).


First off, it's a huge book. Not the biggest of the options for this thing as I hear tell of an even more ginormous version that might crash through the floor of most homes built after 1962. This one even in its moderate hugeness is huge enough. What sets this apart from most other monographs, is that it captures essentially how you might visit and look at an actual Caravaggio in person. The print quality is insane, the details are perfect, and the colorplates, of which the book is almost entirely comprised of, smell amazing.

There are multiple huge single page, souble and even fold out monster spreads of incredibly astute details of these pieces that rival even an in person glance, taken as they must be, a nose's depth from the surface of the linen.


The colors and darks and tiniest glints of light bouncing off the wet-eyed Judith pop like diamonds in a sea of darkest ink. But even in those depths you can still sea bits of blue, or reds hidden away.

It's a seriously incredible and essential studio book. Originally I had it at the house to look over by the wood stove, but screw that mess. This is work material. It may not fill me with rainbows, because let's face it, I don't think Caravaggio would recognize one if it stabbed him in the dark and went full Holofernes on his butt, but that's okay. I'm here in the dark anyway, and the best navigator through it is a fella who lives there. So for your homework until next time, I insist you puts some ducats towards this piece of booky excellence via your local bookmonger, or failing that, Amazon. I think my copy ran about $40, so it won't break your bank. And if so, even if it did, who needs a bank when you have this in your hands? Not I said the fly.




2 comments:

  1. Looks like one fantastic book on a great artist. Some super writing in this review as well!

    Got INDEH in a comic store in Cape Town. Brutal and eye opening.

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  2. Also if people are interested in Caravaggio, I would recommend checking out the excellent "History on fire" podcast. It has a 2 part episode on Caravaggio and it's great! :D

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