Caravaggio: Complete Works Hardcover – Dec 1 2009
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About the Author
Sebastian Schütze was a longtime research fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute for Art History) in Rome. He is a member of the academic board of the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici in Naples and of the Institut européen d’histoire de la République des Lettres in Paris. From 2003 to 2009 he held the Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art at Queen’s University in Kingston. In 2009 he was appointed Professor of Early Modern Art History at Vienna University.
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Top Customer Reviews
the pictures are amazing, truly his a complete works book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One great mystery lies in the fact that where there are multiple representations of the same work, the brightness levels vary - sometimes greatly - from one photo to the next. In nearly all cases the detail plates (which are full-bleed) are brighter and more accurate than the full-size shots. The smaller photos displaying the Cantarelli Chapel at San Luigi more faithfully reproduce the colors of the St. Matthew trilogy than do the dedicated full-page plates. I have little technical knowledge of the printing process, but it seems to me that those who do this for a living (especially at this book's price-point!) would know how to calibrate their devices, publishing software and inks to produce a finished product of consistent tone and luminance.
A couple of other quibbles:
1. The book is divided into two major sections: The first, on heavy glossy stock, combines the more 'free-form' essays which put Caravaggio's paintings into context with his life, his contemporaries, and his influences, with the full-size and detail plates accompanied by smaller reproductions of mentioned works by other artists. But as you read, the plates run farther and farther ahead of the text, so the words on page 115 might describe a work reproduced on page 138. Considering the amount of blank space on some of the pages, the design team at Taschen might have considered a layout whereby the reader could view the plate and read the relevant text without sticking multiple fingers of both hands between the pages to hold his place. The second section, on a matte stock, contains the catalogue, which, while focusing more on provenance, still ends up containing significant redundancies with the essays.
2. While nearly all of the horizontally-oriented works are treated to spread-size reproductions (16" x 24" minus margins), all of the vertically-oriented works are displayed on single pages with margins (for example The Seven Acts Of Mercy is 8 5/8" x 13"). Since the size and weight of the book obviate the need for viewing it on a table rather than in the lap, a few larger representations of vertical works which required the rotation of the book would have been a nice addition.
FYI, there are three tri-fold full-bleed details: The Calling Of St Matthew, The Seven Acts Of Mercy, and the Borghese St Jerome Writing).
I await the delivery of a used copy of the Puglisi book, as well as the reissue of the Spike; perhaps between those three and my Quirinale exhibition catalogue I will acquire a complete set of Caravaggio reproductions of the highest quality.
In black boards with gold lettering, and a beautiful jacket of the head of Judith exemplifying the stunning dimensions of the masterpieces and details within.
The book opens with six spreads picturing six head details. The book is printed and sewed (in Italy) with state of the art tolerances and lies flat, but occasionally of course threads or a razor thin line is visible in the center of a spread spanned by an art piece.
I Lombard beginnings 1571-1592 page 20
II The path to artistic autonomy 1592-1599 page 28
III The large religious works in Rome 1599-1606 page 94
IV The late oeuvre in Southern Italy: Naples-Malta-Sicily 1606-1610 page 184
Epilogue, reflections and refractions page 238
Catalogue of Paintings page 242
Bibliography page 300
Index page 304
Acknowledgements, Credits, Imprint page 306
All page stock is substantial, semiglossy up through page 242 for utterly convincing color of full and detail reproductions, entailing bleeds or white framing; from page 243 onward, uncoated paper that is a pleasure to the touch and takes the ink very well to reproduce all the pictures again in smaller size, say 3 by 5 inches, for reference as you read the detailed descriptions.
The Catalogue first presents Paintings 1-67, in chronological order, and comprising, in the opinion of the author, indubitably autograph works (as well as copies of them). Paintings 68-89 are accepted by some Caravaggio scholars but should be regarded as copies or imitations by other hands; this category includes also potentially autograph works whose appraisal is impaired, for example by their poor state of preservation (nor can absolute chronology be established).
The volume includes three foldouts, so you can enjoy a panoramic three-page view of a detail. Some paintings are also shown in their architectural settings. The works of some other artists are included in reduced format to contribute to the scholarly text, which is quite readable in double-column double-spaced format. You will want to lay this big book on a surface for comfortable investigation.
MY FOOTNOTES (the book avoids them)
This book reached me at the UPS Store in an overlarge box, like it was a 20 inch tv set, and stuffed with air bladders, but those UPS guys ripped into it at my request. The book itself is packed in a tight corrugated cardboard "attache case" with a pullup plastic handle, and is a bitch to open. The long ribbon attached to the book as place marker does leave an indentation on the page it touches during tight storage.
I have now ordered the Taschen book which, despite its greater cost, is the best Caravaggio book I have encountered and is good value given the excellence of the printing. It is a while since I have had the good fortune to personally examine a Caravaggio painting and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the reproductions. What I did see has given enormous pleasure. While this is a book that one will want especially for the illustrations, the text is worthwhile and informative.
So coupled with the images of the work, fresh in my mind, and high expectations from Taschen, I was expecting the best. We'll, if all the images in the book were as gorgeous as the cover image of Judith the book would have been a 5++++ but in my estimation 2/3 of the reproductions are about 15 per cent or more too dark...especially the darks in the paintings, which are missing much of the reflected light, and as a result, make the paintings look too dense and heavy. Granted that Caravaggio is the Master of light and shadow....but there is still a sense of breathable air and a flow and elegance of light in his work that is missing here.
The look of the book is sumptuous and the detail shots numerous and large, but in my mind if you can't match the color and tone of artwork, what is the point?
I haven't returned my copy only because of the 1/3 of the prints which are truly great.
I'm sure it will be the artists and connoisseur's of Caravaggio's work that will see this.