M : the man who became Caravaggio

by Peter Robb

Paper Book, 2001




New York : Picador USA, 2001


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

User reviews

LibraryThing member lascaux
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.
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LibraryThing member dbsovereign
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.… (more)
LibraryThing member TheIdleWoman
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.… (more)


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