Caravaggio at the Getty Center: A Painter of Light and Darkness
The Getty Center in Los Angeles is currently hosting an exhibition of three Caravaggio paintings. His paintings were revolutionary for their time, combining the classical traditions of Renaissance art with a new naturalism that sought to capture the striking realism of everyday life. His work was revolutionary, particularly in religious painting, where he portrayed a more humanistic representation of saints.
He used ordinary people, including beggars and prostitutes, as the model for the saints. Caravaggio was a master of chiaroscuro, or the play between light and darkness, much like his life, which was known for his wild lifestyle, often involving duels and other illegal activities. On the run from the law, he used his painting skills to obtain favor from prominent Italian nobles, which ultimately saved him from prison but not from death.
Caravaggio’s influence is evident in other great painters. His approach to portraiture has had a lasting impact on art, particularly on the painting of saints, which made me think about the notion of appropriation and how we all, consciously or not, are doing it in one way or another.
Appropriation is an interesting concept; it is something we come across in everyday life. We constantly absorb different bits and pieces of culture and make them our own. We appropriate ideas and works of art, music, and literature and use them to our benefit. Some people do this intentionally, while others may do it without even realizing it. This concept of appropriation has been present for centuries, with cultures borrowing from one another and evolving as a result.
And maybe the greatest gift of this visit was noticing a new angle, a new intricate detail, or a new unique point of view of this marvelous white architectural complex nested high above the city.