National Gallery:

I had originally thought I would not be able to make it to see the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition (and I know a few classmates headed there this weekend), but plans changed and I managed to get to see it. Putting aside the fact that it was mad busy with people, I really enjoyed the exhibition. Given that I do like the chiaroscuro effect, it was interesting to see how Caravaggio’s contemporaries interpreted this for themselves. Of course, chiaroscuro was not the only thing that Caravaggio was good. The detail and emotion in his work, in particular his later work is astounding – two examples are below.

The picture of Cupid domineering over material possessions, brings into play the discussion of semiotics that we had in class last week. The representaion of the arts and music, the military and science in the painting are all overshadowed by Cupid – the manifestation of love. This gave me food for thought… a modern interpretaion of this could be Cupid domineering over modern material possessions, for example: smartphone, laptop, a can of Coca Cola etc… the possibilities are endless… so now I need to find my Cupid…. and there’s my tenous link to the Design Museum…….

Interior with a young Man holding a Recorder, by Francesco Buoneri, called Cecco del CaravaggioMore semiotics in this picture by Cecco del Caravaggio – I’ve tried to ignore the strange expression on the face of the flute player and wondered how he has managed not to knock over anything on the table. Does he want you to join him playing the flute or eat food with him?

But back to the exhibition… as stated above it was actually focused on Caravaggio’s followers, students… however you wish to call them and there were only about 6 or so of Caravaggio’s paintings being exhibited. I was not dissapointed by this as I was interested in seeing how others have interpreted his work.


Now, as some already know, I have never been a real fan of paintings, but the photography courses undertaken at Richmond Adult Community College (RACC) have forced me to challenge that dislike and look beyond it. So this painting of Saint Onuphrius, by Jusepe de Ribera reminds me of the work of Lee Jeffries for example…. or in more correctly, the work of Lee Jeffries, has possibly been influenced at some level by paintings such as this by de Ribera. The level of detail in the hands and body, showing age is actually amazing.. and when you see it in real life, it feels so real.

And so to the light…. Caravaggio and his acolytes were masters of the interpretation of light. So this picture below by Gerard van Honthorst, demonstrates how expert these painters were at representing light, dark, shadow, intensity. . You can hardly make out the features of the lady in red who is in shadow, while the lady in blue is posituvely lustrous in the light.


Now the first Caravaggio that I ever saw, was not on display and I would have been surprised if it had been loaned for this exhibition – but it is such an amazing painting that I had to post it here… If you go to Malta this is a must see – its sheer size is the first thing that will strike you….There is as Studio Bissy would describe negative space, but not as much as you may find in the Carvaggio paintings or of the Caravaggisti. There is still detail in the background to get you thinking… the prisoners looking through the cell windows.


Design Museum: 

This was my first visit and its been over 30 years since I’ve been to what was the former Commonwealth Institute… And like the National Gallery, it was super busy. For me of course, I was interested in the architecture and how the building had been renovated. I went to two exhibitions at the museum – Designer, Maker, User and New and Old. Both were interesting exhibitions for very different reasons. Designer, Maker, User covered a multitude of things, from Tube train design, through to architecture, technology (e.g. Braun, Sony and Apple), to fashion. I need to go back again when its less busy and take some more time with the exibits. The New and Old was premised on the fact of an ageing population, the challenges that brings and how design can help improve and enrich our lives as we get older and live longer.  It was here that I had the idea of a classical semiotic picture with modern technological pieces instead of the more traditonal items. We’ll see where I go with this. Still having to decide on how I want to interpret the still life aspect of this part of the project.

Assignment criteria: 1