The Easel

How Caravaggio destroyed (and saved) painting

In praise of the emotional expressiveness of the Baroque and one of its stars, Caravaggio. Commissioned in 1600 to produce three paintings for a Rome church, he “shattered Renaissance wholeness, clarity and abstruse optical effects … [with] a new, unideal naturalism. The Baroque feels vital now in the way it refuses to accept … rule-bound theoretical art and instead probes deeper into the core of lived experience.”