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Caravaggio's Story of Matthew: A Challenge to the Conventions of Painting, by Thomas Puttfarken - Essay Example

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Caravaggio's Story of Matthew: A Challenge to the Conventions of Painting, by Thomas Puttfarken

The individual participants are important in the composition, but so, too, are the relationships between the individuals in this painting. There is a unity to this painting, yet the painting also has individual components that provide the composition and the painting's meaning. 1 The article then goes on to say that the criticism and the theory of art, in general, is that there is a convention that equates the visual value of a work of art or a representation with the meaning of that work of art. The picture or work of art needs to be a clear representation of the meaning of the work. While life may be chaos, art needs to have some degree of unity. It must have some degree of order. That said, there are some works of art in which the meaning is different when one examines the details then if one simply looks at the painting or work of art in more of a cursory manner. The author then cites Caravaggio's pictures in the Contarelli Chape in San Luigi de'Francesci in Rome, and there are two lateral paintings. To look at these paintings, one gets one type of meaning from them. In looking at the paintings in more careful examination, there is another type of meaning. In these panels, there is the factual evidence and the visual evidence. The factual evidence of the painting relies upon the Biblical passages upon which it is based. The first of the paintings that is examined is The Calling of St. Matthew.3 This is a painting that is based upon a real event that was described in the Bible. The gospel that describes the event in this painting does not say what the meaning was of the event. Nor does the gospel talk about what is the religious or doctrinal significance of the event. Therefore, presumably, it is open to interpretation. Caravaggio's rendering of this event is not traditional, as was Cesari, who was another artist. Caravaggio, who was a young artist at the time that this was painted, decided that he would reimagine this scene, much like movies of today are reimagined for a different audience and given a different tone. In Caravaggio's painting, there are elements which are reminiscent of Da Vinci's portrayal of the Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This would mean that Caravaggio intended that there be a parallel drawn between Adam and Matthew. Another critic decided that it was Christ's hand that more resembled Adam's, and that there was a parallel between Christ and Adam. The author of this article gave this painting another interpretation, and stated that his interpretation of the painting was that there was a parallel between the act that is portrayed in the painting and Christ's power, which his magnetic, as opposed to life-giving. 4 The author then goes on to interpret the head and the hands of Christ in Calling of St. Matthew. 5While these are the focal point of the narrative, they are also obscured. Another detail is the position of the right foot, that was also obscured, even though this small detail was important to the meaning of the painting it meant that Christ was already moving on. This detail, too, was left in the shadows, which is another way that the artist manages to make the more significant details seem less so. The argument was that Caravaggio was clearly cognizant of the event and knew the meaning behind it. This is evident in some of the details in the painting. Yet, the details of the painting suggest ...Show more
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Summary

This article begins by talking about the meaning of composition in a painting. The composition is something that is comprised of elements both physical and moral, and the important elements of composition include unity, propriety and perspicuity…
Caravaggios Story of Matthew: A Challenge to the Conventions of Painting, by Thomas Puttfarken
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