After our visit to Picasso’s Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, we thought, might as well, and despite us both not being very much into Renaissance art (we’re more into the late 19th, 20th and 21st century), we enjoyed the ‘Beyond Caravaggio’ exhibition at the National Gallery very much.
As one would expect form the National Gallery, the exhibition is beautifully curated and instead of focussing on Caravaggio’s work itself, it shows how he influenced his art in Europe for the two or three decades following his death, how other painters were influenced by him and – starting out from his work – created great art in their own right, in many cases greater than his art.
It was inspiring to see how Caravaggio (among others, of course, but this was not the point of the exhibition in question) purged the flatness and one-dimensionality, the awkward false proportions and non-linear perspective from the world of art. How his extreme focus on light and darkness and the contrasts between the two changed the art scene of his time and made the paintings more contemporary and easier to appreciate for today’s palate.
We would have enjoyed the exhibition even more, if there would have been a few more great works of Caravaggio and a few less of the painters influenced by him, but can’t really blame the National Gallery, as they were clear about their intention in the title and the marketing of the exhibition. All in all Beyond Caravaggio – An Explosion of Light and Darkness was a great experience.