Category Archives: Caravaggio

“Caravaggio was to painting what Galileo was to physics”

From Alvaro Enrigue’s novel Sudden Death, which recounts an imaginary tennis match between Francisco de Quevedo and Caravaggio:

Anyone who believes that earthly objects are all composed of the same group of substances, and that transformations are accomplished only through mechanical means, will naturally perceive the voice of God in the filthy fingernails—nails that are of this world, a part of history—of Caravaggio’s saints and virgins. The voice of a god more brilliant than capricious; a god unlike God, remote and uninterested in revealing himself in miracles beyond combustion or the balance of forces; a trust god for everyone: the poor, the wicked, the politicians, the rent boys, and the millionaires.

Caravaggio was to painting what Galileo was to physics: someone who took a second look and said what he was seeing; someone who discovered that forms in space aren’t allegories of anything but themselves, and that’s enough; someone who understood that the true mystery of the forces that control how we inhabit the earth is not how lofty they are, but how elemental. (p. 89)