Caravaggio: Martha and Mary Magdalene

June 23, 2019 to September 22, 2019 | Focus II Gallery
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravggio, Martha and Mary Magdalene, c. 1598, oil and tempera on canvas, Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of the Kresge Foundation and Mrs. Edsel B. Ford, 73.268

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) was one of the most influential figures in the history of European art. Active in Italy between 1592 and 1610, he revolutionized painting and laid the foundation for 17th-century Baroque painting through his theatrical compositions and gritty realism observed from life.

Martha and Mary Magdalene (c. 1598), on loan from the Detroit Institute of Arts, is a masterpiece from Caravaggio’s early career in Rome. The painting depicts Mary Magdalene, considered by the Catholic Church at the time to be a prostitute, experiencing a spiritual awakening as her sister Martha counts on her fingers the reasons she should convert. Caravaggio conveys the moment of Mary’s conversion—a challenging subject—through his treatment of light, which casts a divine glow on the reformed sinner.

At the heart of Caravaggio’s groundbreaking style are his reduced color schemes, somber backgrounds, and dramatic lighting effects produced by sharp light and dark contrasts (chiaroscuro). The artist’s creation of a shallow, stage-like setting pushes the figures up close to the viewer, as though the event is unfolding in our own space and time.

Fewer than 10 paintings by Caravaggio are housed in the US, in the collections of six museums, making this a rare opportunity to see an extraordinary work by one of the most celebrated Old Master painters.

Focus Installation
Admission is FREE.


Exhibition Talk: Caravaggio's Revolutionary Road

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Join Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, Head of the European Art Department and Elizabeth and Allan Shelden Curator of European Paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts, for a talk about the Detroit Institute of Art’s masterpiece by Caravaggio, Martha and Mary Magdalene, c. 1598, on loan to the DMA.


Gallery Talk: Caravaggio

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Julien Domercq, the DMA's Lillian and James H. Clark Assistant Curator of European Art, will discuss Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's masterpiece Martha and Mary Magdalene, on loan from the Detroit Institute of Arts.



Film Screening: Caravaggio

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Derek Jarman’s 1986 film Caravaggio is a portrait of the artist as he looks back on his life, work, and love affairs. Shot in a dramatic chiaroscuro style evocative of Caravaggio’s paintings, the film explores the darker sides of the artist's character and the underbelly of Rome in the late Renaissance. This film is rated R (1986, 93 min.).

Presented in partnership with Dallas Film