Rome: Caravaggio & Bernini

It occurred to me today that my trip to Rome that I’m taking in June could help me get into these final paintings. It’s been about 10 years since I studied in Rome when I was a junior at RISD, and it will be interesting to see what’s changed since then and what’s the same. I’m also curious to find out whether my perspective on certain works has been enhanced since I started teaching, especially since I’ve been teaching art history at RISD in the summers. I know that the trip will definitely give me good food for thought to help my art history class, given thats so many works we discuss in the class are in Italy. In terms of painting, I’m particularly excited to revisit the Caravaggio paintings that are in Rome. I remember when I saw famous works in Europe that for me the piece would either blow my mind away or be a complete disappointment. Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa was a big disappointment, I had all these ideas about how great I thought that piece was and in real person it just looked flat and boring. The Caravaggio paintings were incredible, you would never think it was possible to get those kinds of effects in paint.

I’m at an odd time in the year. Part of me really wants to buckle down and get to work, but the other part of me knows how burnt out I am from teaching this year and recognizes that I need to take a break to refresh my mind. Otherwise, it’s almost anti-productive. I’m still not 100% finished with teaching either; I still have a student show that I have to attend next Wed. and I still have to write comments for the students which is always time consuming. I suppose my way of taking a “break” was I worked my children’s book this week instead of the artwork.In a weird way, that diversion has helped me clear my head a little.

Caravaggio’s Martyrdom of St. Matthew

Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa

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