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Jacqueline Lavin Thesis


Caravaggio: A Conversation with a Restless Mind.

It is the product of his instability that drives me to make spatial sense of the painting before me. Within the red room at t he Metropolitan Museum of Art, I am transfixed in the same two scenes created by Caravaggio. I find release in the dark composition and it is in drawing that I follow the painter as he flees from city to city. Caravaggio Milan Rome Genoa Naples Syracuse Palermo Valletta In the creation of a narrative sited in Valletta , Malta my project is the excavation of the original fort wall as it ru ns beneath St. John Street, the way in which Caravaggio inhabited the street. While in Malta, Caravaggio was given a moment of rest from his turbulent past. Admitted into the knighthood, he produced his largest painting on the island. Keeping with his transient nature, the location of where he produced such paintings is a mystery. The meandering pat h within the wall is the subterranean connection between Caravaggio’s dwelling in the Fort St. Angelo acros s the harbor, and the site of his painting as displayed in St. John’s CoCathedral. Within this wall is a series of chambers, each informed by my own reactions to eight paintings by Caravaggio throughout the semester. The chambers are programmed to the original uses of the Knights of Malta for the storage and display of select items, concluding in the hidden painter’s st udio beneath the Cathedralv


Michelangelo Merisi

Painted with no foresight Painter of the streets Inhabited the streets of Caravaggio Milan Rome Naples Genoa Valletta Palermo Syracuse A restless mind A life of violence and flight from city to city As he runs, his paintings follow into a darker genre He paints in a field of blackness Moments and manipulated light define the space within his figures


CONCERT OF YOUTHS New York Rome As a place of familiarity, I walk through the maze of galleries devoted to European painting. My s ubconscious directs me, through the warm rooms and I am guided by an established set of landmark paintings, familiar friends. The red room sits in the farthermost corner of the exhibition space, housing the four paintings of which I am a frequent visitor. In drawing The Concert of Youths, the only figure to maintain a fixed stair is the young Caravaggio. To the back of three classical figures in the midst of some seductive state, he beckons for the viewer’s attention. While there is a distanced pleasure amongst the young lute player who glows in the foreground, and the insinuation of something romantic about this lavish lifestyle, it is the Caravaggio that addresses me. I enter onto a dark and narrow walkway with only an undulating surface above me. As I continue along my path, the red cloth of the young lute player conforms to geometry. The fabric-like vaults seem to hover above in a limitless field. It is a world of darkness only illuminated in small instances at the edge of a surface, and the distanced backlighting to a small structure at the end of my path. I realize there are only four intermittent supports to the weightless mega-structure above. As I approach the edge of my path, I look out onto a cityscape. Standing over the first of four archways, I am at the site of a palace. Looking down onto the courtyard within the Palazzo Madama, I see a life of luxury. Cardinals and aristocrats feast amongst the works of art and dine to what appears to be a musical note I cannot hear. Four young boys strum a lute which makes no sound. The interior of the palace is contrasted to the tumultuous activity happening within the surrounding streets. I continue forward to the first bay of my now bridging path, to where I see within a niche, the sculpted figure of a young musician. It is at this point which I hear the sound of intermittent strumming. I continue to the next bay at which I find the sculpted figure hovering over a sheet of markings. As I skim the surface, the intermittent strumming begins to take on an order. Unable to fully define the genre of the sounds being generated, I continue onward. To the third bay, a sculpted Cupid emits a clear romantic tune to reverberate throughout the vaults and archways. At the fourth bay I approach the lit entranceway that anchors the last column in an otherwise dark field.


Palazzo Madama, Rome Home of Caravaggio under the patron Cardinal Del Monte in which the Youths were painted. Rome would be the location of many of his masterpieces. Amongst the wealthy of Rome, Caravaggio found hims elf in the streets in where his violent behavior pursues, and eventually forces him to leave.

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The Lute Player

I continue forward to the first bay of my now bridging path, to where I see within a niche, the sculpted figure of a young musician. It is at this point which I hear the sound of intermittent strumming.

Boy With Sheet Music

I continue to the next bay at which I find the sculpted figure hovering over a sheet of markings. As I skim the surface, the intermittent strumming begins to take on an order. Unable to fully define the genre of the sounds being generated. continue onward.

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Cupid

To the third bay, a sculpted Cupid emits a clear romantic tune to reverberate throughout the vaults and archways.

Caravaggio

At the fourth bay I approach the lit entranceway that anchors the last column in an otherwise dark field.


Narcissus Rome

As I descend a flight of stairs into darkness, I begin to hear the sounds of flowing water. At the bottom step I stand at a pier, with a rowboat large enough for one tied to a post. As I begin to row through darkness, I see in the distance what appears to be a spiraling form which hovers in space. With no clear ground, I am able to row into and through the concentric arches that are physical above me, while illuminated below me. As I enter this spiraling path, I am captivated by the beauty in the reflection through which I travel. As I move to the edge of my boat and glare into reflection, I realize the fragility of my vehicle. Incapable of straying inches from my initial position without fear of overturning into the darkness, I am forced to look only ahead. I realize the only way I can continue forward is to remain station-


As I move to the edge of my boat and glare into a concentric reflection, I realize the fragility of my vehicle.


I realize the only way I can continue forward is to remain stationary. The slightest effort to gaze into the reflection below would sink into darkness.


Martyrdom of St Matthew The Scene of a Crime


The Calling of St. Matthew Room for Judgement


The Taking of Christ A Cell


z


The Beheading of St. John Valletta

I find my path is beginning to narrow along a wall that seems to thicken as I move forward. What has been a consistent path is sending me into a variation of angled and erratic directions. My path is determined by the fortification wall I walk the periphery of. The city I walk the periphery of is built behind and atop this undulating wall that is both carved stone, and constructed limestone masonry. The orthogonal grid of cubic stone dwellings within are decorated with the baroque addition of the Knights. As my stepped path once again changes direction, I mind my proximity to the wall, for to my left is at all times a far drop to a dark water. I turn and I find myself scaling the side of a fortified wall lined with a row of arches. Behind each a row of eight arches are eight chapels. Each space is ornately decorating with limestone carvings in reference to the eight langues of the Knights. As I approach the last arched space, I am confronted with a chapel dedicated to John, Patron saint of the Knights. As I once again reach a sharp right turn, I am guided by the glimmer of a reflected light on the limestone ahead, which my path continues to follow.


Working Space


I am interested in the idea of how the spatial implications of a drawing can be physically translated into a space. By choosing my vantage point from the edge of my drafting table to the drawing 36� in front of me I began to physically build out the constructed perspective lines to assemble a frame of the space. Once I had assembled the frame of the drawing I began to build with material. I worked through a process in which I would keep my eye at the pinhole and find the correct point in space in which the material aligned with the drawing. The material would then become a surface on which I could draw while I look through the pinhole. Drawing lines in space that would align with the perspective, I started to find some interesting geometries. Something I have always been interested and found myself working through is the act of drawing what I perceive in the space between my eye and the perspective as a way to define form. Over the course of Spring semester, I would like to continue exploring these spaces from the paintings I select. After each drawing I am interested in the idea of building a portion of each drawing as a way to start defining a language for the architecture. A collection of built details derived from each of the drawings would in the end be incorporated into a structure where my journey concludes.


Valletta, Malta A fortified city with a long history of sieges and cultural diversity. A city of stone, the white limestone occupies all surfaces both natural and constructed. Elaborate and fortified walls surround the city, with the Baroque addition of the Knights of Malta. A temporary refuge for after being honored with the title of a Knight of Malta.

The Excavation of a Wall Built by the Knights of Malta before the city was expanded A subterranean path A secret path from the Fort to the City Gate in the event of a siege. Lined with eight chambers Derived from eight paintings


St. John’s CoCathedral Cathedral to the patron Saint of the Knights of Mattlta. A fortified exterior, contrasted to an ornate interior of eight chapels each dedicated to a portion of the Knights of Malta. Houses the largest painting ever done by Caravaggio. The beheading of St. John encompases an entire wall from which the rest of the space is projected.

Fort St. Angelo The original headquarters for the Knights, it would become the eventual prison from which Caravaggio would escape.


The Program of a Street The Program of a Wall Perspective Orientation Caravaggio’s occupation of the streett


A Carved Ground A Carved City


Marina Gate 1530 Built by the Knights 1606 Travelled by Caravaggio


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St. John Street


Bibliography

“The Age of Caravaggio by Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, N.Y. , Museo E Gallerie Nazionali Di Capodimonte, N.Y. Metropolitan Museum of Art New York 1985, “Caravaggio The Complete Works Silvana Editoriale Edited and Text by Rossella Vodret. Pub Date: 2010. Piranesi Rome Recorded: a Complete Edition of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Vedute Di Roma from the Collection of the Arthur Ross Foundation. New York, NY: American Academy in Rome, 1990. Print. England, Richard. Walls of Malta. [Valetta, Malta]: M.R.S.M., 197-. Print. Hughes, Quentin. Fortress, Architecture and Military History in Malta: Quentin Hughes, ... with Photographs by David Wrightson. London: L. Humphries, 1969. Print. Sgarbi, Vittorio. Caravaggio. Milano: Skira, 2007. Print.

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