Michael Fried: The Moment of Caravaggio


[Note 8/7/10: I’ve just learned that this book will be released earlier than expected, likely later this month; the publisher has already begun to ship advance copies — and the book, which I was able to flip through very quickly yesterday, looks gorgeous! — BR]

We’ve just learned that Princeton University Press will publish, this October, Michael Fried’s new book, The Moment of Caravaggio (based on Prof. Fried’s A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts delivered at the National Gallery of Art). It looks absolutely terrific, and we wanted to let you all know. To visit the publisher’s webpage for the book, please click here. To order a copy from Amazon, click here.

(While waiting for this book to come out, you might want to read or re-read Fried’s 1997 Critical Inquiry essay, “Thoughts on Caravaggio,” which we believe was his first piece of writing on Caravaggio’s art. To access that essay, please click here.)

Here is Princeton University Press’ description of the forthcoming book:

This is a groundbreaking examination of one of the most important artists in the Western tradition by one of the leading art historians and critics of the past half-century. In his first extended consideration of the Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610), Michael Fried offers a transformative account of the artist’s revolutionary achievement. Based on the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts delivered at the National Gallery of Art, The Moment of Caravaggio displays Fried’s unique combination of interpretive brilliance, historical seriousness, and theoretical sophistication, providing sustained and unexpected readings of a wide range of major works, from the early Boy Bitten by a Lizard to the late Martyrdom of Saint Ursula. And with close to 200 color images, The Moment of Caravaggio is as richly illustrated as it is closely argued. The result is an electrifying new perspective on a crucial episode in the history of European painting.

Focusing on the emergence of the full-blown “gallery picture” in Rome during the last decade of the sixteenth century and the first decades of the seventeenth, Fried draws forth an expansive argument, one that leads to a radically revisionist account of Caravaggio’s relation to the self-portrait; of the role of extreme violence in his art, as epitomized by scenes of decapitation; and of the deep structure of his epoch-defining realism. Fried also gives considerable attention to the art of Caravaggio’s great rival, Annibale Carracci, as well as to the work of Caravaggio’s followers, including Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, Bartolomeo Manfredi, and Valentin de Boulogne.

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