Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy
November 11, 2012–February 10, 2013
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy, an exhibition devoted to the legacy of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610), one of the most influential painters in history. The exhibition was co-organized by LACMA, the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art under the auspices of FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange), an international consortium to which all four museums belong.
Many of the innovations introduced by Caravaggio were adopted by painters from different countries, backgrounds, and influences. Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy features an unprecedented eight paintings by Caravaggio himself that will be shown together for the first time in California. Fifty more paintings document his influence on a host of painters from France, Spain, and the Netherlands, including Georges de La Tour, Gerrit van Honthorst, Velázquez, and Simon Vouet.
Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy first opened simultaneously in two French venues: the Musée Fabre in Montpellier and the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse (June 23–October 14, 2012). Following LACMA’s presentation, an edited version of the exhibition will travel to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (March 8–June 15, 2013).
About the exhibition
By the time of his death in 1610, Caravaggio was arguably the most renowned artist in Rome. This exhibition brings together a large group of artists who worked predominantly after Caravaggio’s death, carrying his legacy in different directions. While united under Caravaggio’s aesthetic influence, these artists were highly original in their own rights and were recognized for their immense talent and individuality, in particular Orazio Gentileschi, Giovanni Baglione, and Carlo Saraceni in particular.
Attention is devoted to Bartolomeo Manfredi, who, developing subjects and compositional devices typical of Caravaggio, elaborated a style that became particularly seminal amongst French painters in Rome. Simon Vouet, the most famous of those artists, kept working in the light of Caravaggio until his return from Rome to Paris in 1627. Night scenes, brilliantly illuminated, were the specialty of Dutch Caravaggesque artists Gerrit van Honthorst and Matthias Stomer. Caravaggio’s stay in Naples left important works, admired by many artists, in the city, which resulted in a typically Neapolitan Caravaggist school fed by the example of Jusepe de Ribera, a Spaniard based in Naples whose role in disseminating Caravaggio’s style was as important in Naples as Manfredi’s had been in Rome. Paintings by both Zurbarán and Velázquez, two of the greatest Spanish painters of the seventeenth century, demonstrate that even in faraway Seville, the lesson of the master was not ignored. The exhibition concludes with the work of George de La Tour, the enigmatic artist from Lorraine whose subjects and aesthetic elements seem to suggest an inevitable encounter with the work of Caravaggio. Yet the painter never went to Italy and how he could have known of Caravaggio’s works in his native Lorraine remains conjectural.
This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération, the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, under the auspices of FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange).
The Los Angeles presentation was made possible by The Ahmanson Foundation.
With support from FRAME, the national tour was made possible in part by Sotheby’s, the Annenberg Foundation/GRoW Annenberg, the Robert Lehman Foundation, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
This exhibition is presented under the auspices of “2013: Year of Italian Culture.”
The installation was designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects.
For additional information, contact LACMA Communications at 323 857 6522.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, circa 1595. Oil on canvas, 36 3/8 x 50 ¼ inches (92.4 x 127.6 cm); Frame: 48 x 62 ½ x 4 ¼ inches. (121.9 x 158.8 x 10.8cm). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund. Photo © Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.