Low Life, High Art
December 08, 2010
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.
The Mystic Smile
July 22, 2002
Becoming Mona Lisa: The Making of a Global Icon by Donald Sassoon (Harcourt, 337 pp., $30) One of the most extraordinary but least remarked upon features of paintings and sculptures is their persistence as actual, physical objects from other times and places.