Keith Christiansen

Low Life, High Art

I. Some years ago I watched Derek Jarman’s film Caravaggio, starring Nigel Terry in the title role. As entertainment I am sure it has its fans, but I cannot recommend it to anyone interested in an art-historical shortcut, a crash course on this most popular Old Master. Jarman’s view of life in Rome in the seventeenth century is a combination of Fellini’s Satyricon and the soap opera Days of Our Lives, and his sense of artistic life must have derived from his personal knowledge of the scenes in London and New York in the 1980s. I did a lot of fast-forwarding.

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