Mar 16, 2009

VR Morrison goes all Caravaggio on me

So in a somewhat inspired somewhat overwhelmed state post Melbourne Art Fair 08, I looked up all the names I'd noted down while there and saved a bunch of images for future reference. I then went on to completely forget that the files were there, only to stumble upon them in a moment of procrastination tonight. What with Lisa giving me a book on Caravaggio for my birthday, old Mr Merisi is on my mind a bit, so this made me laugh:

(Self Portrait with Doppelganger, 2006)

The Caravaggio original, David with the head of Goliath, is possibly one of the most overanalysed paintings in the history of art history, and in fact Caravaggio himself has been plain and simply analysed to death. Why? His biography is interesting; lots of contemporaries had lots to say about him and his temperament. We know what he looked like, and figures with similar appearences to his own feature in the backgrounds of several of his religious works. So, of course, the freudian-art history gravy train says that these disguised self portraits are a further indication of Caravaggio's turbulent soul; his uncertainty (or even disdain) when it came to religion. Art historians writing on David with the head of Goliath have gone as far as to say that by depicting himself as the slain giant, Carvaggio is showing self-loathing as a result of his violent nature, effectively wishing he, too, was dead, and condemning himself to death along with Goliath. I would argue that the disguised portraits provide a means for Caravaggio to self-interrogate rather than to make concrete statements about his identity. To say that we can distill how he feels about it is maybe taking it a wee step too far. But anyway, this isn't the point. We can't decisively say how V. R. Morrison feels about herself either, but I think it is safe to say that she's referencing Caravaggio here.

(David with the head of Goliath, c1605-10)

More art fair artists to come, eventually, however I have massive backlog of Rome posts to get through first, so this will have to be a teaser for now.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails