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M : The Man Who Became Caravaggio (1998)

by Peter Robb

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579530,338 (4.05)13
Robb's extraordinary book about the great Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi from Caravaggio is being reprinted for the exhibition of the artist's work that opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in November and later moves to Melbourne. The book contains dozens of pictures. This will be a cheaper edition than before (the notes have been removed) and will have an insert giving page references to pictures in the exhibition.'Written with the urgency of a detective novel - compulsively readable.' - John McDonald, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'A book that recreates the mirror Caravaggio held up to nature with singular delicacy as well as passion and panache.' - Hilary Spurling, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW… (more)
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Showing 5 of 5
Deliciously gossipy biography in a vividly journalistic style. Robb has certain quirks and takes a defiantly back-to-basics approach. Unable to find the name that contemporaries universally used for Caravaggio, he refers to him as 'M' throughout; and he gives the paintings crisp, curt titles. Caravaggio swaggers through these pages: devil-may-care, quick for a fight and sexually omniverous. It's the kind of book people either love or hate. I happen to love it for the way it utterly disregards conventional artist biography; and it's impossible to find a book which better evokes the brutally violent world of backstreet 17th-century Rome. ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Dec 8, 2017 |
A fascinating story of Caravaggio's brutal life, and we get the feeling that this was a rather violent man. Lots of papal politics, duels. Brilliant recreations and passionate renderings of Caravaggio's paintings coupled with a biography of a man about whom little is really known. Robb makes the case that Caravaggio is the founder of modern art. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
For goodness' sake don't let this be the only book you read about Caravaggio, but DO let it inject some mischief and fun into your study of his stunning paintings; and let it be a reminder, too, that 'great art' is not something abstract which floats ready-made above the seedy world which the rest of us inhabit, but is something which is itself created in and through that world - which, here, Peter Robb brings rivetingly to life. I think it's fantastic! Naughty, but VERY nice. ( )
  readawayjay | Sep 1, 2011 |
This book was in GREAT need of a substantive editor. Too long, too dense. Just too everything. I pity the person that has no familiarity with Caravaggio that picks up this book. That person would hate the painter well before the first hundred pages are finished. It's only redeeming quality is of the painting descriptions. But even then, they go on and on and on. Peter Robb is clearly in love with his subject, that is for sure. ( )
  VenusofUrbino | May 15, 2009 |
Powerful book about a powerful but also fragile painter written in a powerful style. It's just been a major reading experience. Very different from a history of art book: the writer has qualities of a novelist, but clearly goes about his research in a most thorough manner.
I looked at each painting on the web and each became much more meaningful after having read about it in the book. A new way of looking at Caravaggio ( 'M') comes about. I now wish to see the canvases which are in South Italy, Sicily and Malta.
The organization of the book is interesting ( quotes, refs, list of pictures, paragraphs, sections, typography, elisions close to speech).
I'd also found an earlier read, Peter Robb's "Midnight in Sicily" of very high quality — recommended to me in Palermo by a Scottish professor who spoke perfect Italian. ( )
  lascaux | Jul 30, 2008 |
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Robb's extraordinary book about the great Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi from Caravaggio is being reprinted for the exhibition of the artist's work that opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in November and later moves to Melbourne. The book contains dozens of pictures. This will be a cheaper edition than before (the notes have been removed) and will have an insert giving page references to pictures in the exhibition.'Written with the urgency of a detective novel - compulsively readable.' - John McDonald, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'A book that recreates the mirror Caravaggio held up to nature with singular delicacy as well as passion and panache.' - Hilary Spurling, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

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