05/08/2011

M THE MAN WHO BECAME CARAVAGGIO BY PETER ROBB - BOOK REVIEW

I read an Italian translation of this biography by Australian author Peter Robb, "M L'Enigma Caravaggio", which I bought in Rome in one of my recent errands with friends around the capital. Honestly,  I thought it was a fictionalized biography, instead, it is a biographical work based on a thourough research and a great deal of documents. I've always been attracted by the dark, violent, realistic paintings of the man called Caravaggio from the name of the town he was brought up in. What make them so special is how the light breaks into the darkness often revealing shocking realistic portraits of human sufferings, pains, sorrow and violence. 
The entire existence of Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, is still today a highly fascinating enigma. Thanks to his sensitiveness  and to his accurate researches based on first-hand documents, Peter Robb brings back to life both the man and the artist in the 527 pages of this book, and he does that  with great, powerful tragicality. He dares  word his own hypothesis on the inexplicable facts in Michelangelo Merisi's life, such as his final disappearance. Nobody knows where, when and, especially, how he died.

Robb makes Caravaggio's death part of a disquieting context of sexual vengeance, betrayals, state corruption, revealing the name of the person who ordered the murder of the painter. But this is just one of the many hypothesis suggested to compensate the lack of real information. No clues. No evidence.

Despite its not being a work of fiction,  M THE MAN WHO BECAME CARAVAGGIO can be as seductive as a good mystery novel ,  like a thrillerdue to the flow of incredible events in the artist's real life. From his childhood in Lombardia, a region in the North of Italy, to the long period he spent in Rome, until his professional triumph and then the existential catastrophe of the last years: the sentence for murder, his escape to Naples first and  to Malta afterwards, the prison, the jailbreak and the mysterious disappearance. M is not a traditional academic biobraphical study but the real story of a man who was a painter who radically changed Art.

 Read my reviews: 

5 comments:

MarySimonsen said...

I read this book. He led quite a life. One of my favorite pictures is The Calling of Matthew.

MarySimonsen said...

P.S. I like your new look.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@MarySimonsen
The first time I was in S. Luigi dei Francesi's and saw that masterpiece, Mary, I was in tears. Caravaggio depicted life in light and darkness, and the pain, the suffering or the tragicality of the moment comes out to you while watching and you feel haunted as he must have been haunted while living and painting.
Thanks for reading and commenting.

JaneGS said...

I know I will love this book--I findCaravaggio's work as fascinating as the little I know about his life, and I tend to like bios better than fictionalized accounts anyway.

Great review!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Jane GS
Thank you, Jane. I hope you'll get to read it soon!