Technology has the capacity to turn us all into artists; using our phone as a canvas, we can frame, snap, apply filters, sharpen and adjust. It takes one look at social media to see beauty in everyday life. Regardless of the subject, the esthetic quality of today’s pictures is captivating.
Over four centuries ago this artistic finesse was not quite as easy, or as transient. Think back to Rome in the 1600’s, the dwelling place and inspiration for one of the greatest artists of all time, Caravaggio. His work was radical, influencing the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Delacroix, Manet, and it continues to inspire today, from artists to great directors such as Spielberg to P.T Anderson. Caravaggio burst onto the art scene in Rome with his innovative way of painting; a style that combined detailed physical observation with a theatrical use of contrasts between light and dark. And we’re not talking about an image the size of a phone or a tablet. Caravaggio painted the walls of churches and palazzos with his stories.
Rome today is a treasure trove of his great masterpieces, like the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew and Calling of Saint Matthew. Just as the great painter himself did, take time to contemplate the precision of shadows, and the silent yet powerful narrative of the characters that live within his work. Just as he immersed himself in these vignettes, you too will find yourself enthralled by that which is hidden in Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro. Allow your perceptions to be transformed, as you take in the minutia of detail in each pictorial story. If seeing is believing, then experiencing Caravaggio’s masterpieces in Rome is like living amongst the greats.