Caravaggio or Caravaggi-no?

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio
Photo Credit:

One of the most famous Italian painters of the Baroque period, Caravaggio challenged the classical traditions of painting. Born on September 29, 1571,  his actual name was Michelangelo Merisi but he was dubbed Caravaggio after the the northern Italian town he was from. Instead of employing ideal proportions to the human subjects of his paintings, Caravaggio catered to a dramatic realism in which the models for his paintings were everyday people. Never before had lofty history paintings featured commoners. But the gritty familiarity of these figures complimented by Caravaggio’s style of employing tenebrism created an awe inspiring sense of drama. Tenebrism, a more extreme form of chiaroscuro, featured “violent” contrasts of light and dark.

Caravaggio’s use of extreme naturalism and tenebrism gained him many commissions and followers. Artists like Artemisia Gentileschi spread his style all over the Italian peninsula, and even to places like Spain and the Netherlands. He died on July 19th 1610.

The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio
Photo Credit:

Two young researchers, Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli, have announced that they have found at least 100 drawings they claim can be attributed to Caravaggio. They were found to be among the possessions of Caravaggio’s milanese teacher Simone Peterzano.

Other scholars, however, are skeptical. The two researchers did not undergo academic review and instead published their findings in a series of e-books. Many of the higher ups in art history academia are dismissing it as sensationalist invention. Bernardelli Curuz, the artistic director of the Fondazione Brescia Musei, says that these researchers avoided the scientific peer review because the Italian experts are a well established group. They do not leave much room for younger scholars to muscle in.

It’s ironic that a battle between younger and older scholars is occurring over works of Caravaggio. It is maintained that Caravaggio did not draw and yet Curuz and Fedrigolli are challenging that assumption. Caravaggio, too, went against his elders. He succeeded in his revolt, though wether these researchers are right or wrong is yet to be seen.

Medusa by Caravaggio
Photo Credit: The Google Art Project

The New York Times has written an article on the controversy, and you can also go to the researcher’s website. There you can purchase the two e-books they published which has been translated into four languages for optimal audience accessibility.


E-Books: (click the little british flag at the bottom right for english)

What do you think about the situation?


Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. Thirteenth. Boston: Wadsworth Publishing, 2010.


How to Justify that Cheeseburger

Artemisia Gentileschi: The Sleeping Venus
Photo Credit: Barbara Piasecka Johnson Foundation, New Jersey

The Venus Re-imagined
Photo Credit:

Beauty: the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations, a meaningful design or pattern, or something else.

And what is more beautiful than the human form?

We have all heard the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Different time periods and cultures all have their own unique societal ideas on what constitutes a beautiful body. And in the realm of art, the female form is a common vehicle to demonstrate beauty. In the past, women with a chubbier, more curvy physique were preferred because it was thought the bigger the body the bigger the wealth. And with more curves to work with it was easier for artists to illustrate a softer, more feminine look. Nowadays, that idea has changed. Our media is filled with skinny stars and diet plans. People are fighting tooth and nail to try and fit into size two bikinis for the summer.

But is skinny really as preferred as the media makes it seem?

Italian artist Anna Utopia Giordano challenges the supposed present view that a beautiful woman is a thin woman with an art historical bang. She has taken famous paintings from artists such as Botticelli, Cabanel, and Gentileschi, well known for their depiction of the beautiful female nude, and re-painted the subjects with slimmer figures. She provides the viewer with both the original and remake.

Which version do you think is more beautiful?

The Vitruvian Turtle

When studying Renaissance artists like Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo one can’t help thinking about everyone’s favorite teenage turtles. Imagine, instead of weilding a staff, katana, sai, or nunchuck, these pizza loving ninjas brandishing paint brushes, pencils, and chisels. Well now you don’t have to!

For $15 at you can see Leonardo, the leader of the ninja turtles, creating the vitruvian turtle!

This is something you don’t want to miss!

Ready, Set, Gogh!

There are very few images that are as widely recognized, or reproduced, as Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. You’ll find the painting on coffee mugs, mouse pads, tote bags, Christmas ornaments, and necklaces. You can even find it on your father’s new button-down, your grandmother’s new silk scarf, and your girlfriend’s new bra. It’s everywhere!

Despite its popularity though, how many people actually know anything about the painting besides the artist, and that its presence in your home is only an Amazon click away? Not many. So then let’s put on our art history hats and find some nifty tidbits to wow the next friend you meet who has an iPhone with a Starry Night case.

The Basics: Painted in 1889 with oil on canvas, this work measures 2′ 5″ x 3′ 1/4″ and can be found at the Museum of Modern Art (if you’re in New York be sure to visit it!).

The Artist: Born March 30, 1853 in the Netherlands, Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting when alive. It was only after his death that he gained the popularity he has today. Much of what we know about van Gogh is from the letters that he sent to his brother Theo, an art dealer who supported him financially and emotionally. Van Gogh was an art dealer, a teacher, and an evangelist, who suffered from epilepsy as well as stormy emotions. Towards the end of his life, van Gogh was committed to an asylum in Saint Remy near Arles called the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole. He died on July 29, 1890.

The Work: Starry Night was painted during van Gogh’s time at the asylum. Though parts of the painting, like the flame-like cypress tree and constellations, have been confirmed by scholars to have been visible from his window there, portions of the painting are the result of van Gogh’s expressionist style. Many speculate that the church and the fact that there are eleven stars (Genesis 37:9 ) allude to van Gogh’s struggles with religion. Many also say, that the brightest star refers to Venus, a symbol of the love that eluded him on earth. In a letter to Theo, van Gogh writes: “perhaps death is not a hardest thing in a painter’s life…[L]ooking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.”

Words of the Day: 

  • Post Impressionism: A colossal term (way too big to try and adequately define without a post all of its own), Post-Impressionism is a late 19th century French movement that came after Impressionism but moved away from its predecessor’s interest in studying the way light and color interact. Instead, bright color and sharp lines characterize Post-Impressionism. Artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Auguste Rodin, Georges Seurat, and, of course, Vincent van Gogh, were more interested in individual pursuits. They did not usually exhibit or work together.
  • Expressionism: A style of art in which the artist does not stick to any type of realism, but instead creates a work in response to the intensity of their emotions.  In a letter to Theo van Gogh wrote: “instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes, I use color more arbitrarily so as to express myself forcibly.”
  • Impasto: A painting technique in which paint is applied very thickly.

Modern Day Appropriations: A work of art as famous as Starry Night is able to reach a lot of people (especially with technology today). Below I have shown three different ways in which Starry Night has inspired others to continue the legacy.


Grisham, Kathleen. 20th Century Art. 25 August 2005. 7 July 2012 <;.

Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History. Fourteenth. Boston: Wadsworth Publishing, 2009.

The Van Gogh Gallery. Vincent van Gogh: Starry Night. 15 January 2011. 7 July 2012 <;.

Videos: by FlippyCat by MrAdamBurns