By Leo Bersani
Many critics have explored the homoerotic message within the early pictures of the baroque painter Michelangelo Caravaggio (1573-1610). In Caravaggio's secrets and techniques, Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit emphasize as a substitute the impenetrability of those graphics. the strain among erotic invitation and self-concealing retreat leads Bersani and Dutoit to finish that the curiosity of those works is of their illustration of an enigmatic handle that solicits intimacy in an effort to block it with a mystery. Bersani and Dutoit supply a psychoanalytic interpreting of the enigmatic handle as beginning family members grounded in paranoid fascination. They learn Caravaggio's makes an attempt to maneuver past such kinfolk, his experiments with an area now not circumscribed through the mutual and paranoid, if erotically stimulating, fascination with imaginary secrets and techniques. In his most unique paintings, Caravaggio proposes a appreciably new mode of connectedness, a nonerotic sensuality appropriate to the main interesting makes an attempt in our personal time to reconsider, maybe even to reinvent, neighborhood.
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From this perspective, the peremptory quality of Christ’s gestures—follow me! —could almost be thought of as a blasphemous invasion of space. 4 To say that Christ’s gesture in the Calling of St. Matthew and in the Resurrection of Lazarus impoverishes space is not to deny his importance in the history of how the passage between life and death has been imagined. Christianity tells a story of spectacular transitions between Eternal Being, human life, and death. To paint this story—from the Annunciation and the virgin birth to Christ’s Ascension and the Assumption of the Virgin—was necessarily to engage in a kind of visual reﬂection on it.
The particular artfulness with which each of us moves through space is the creation of our mortality, the expression, or pressing outward, of death’s inscription within our bodies. Is the remarkable sensuousness of St. Jerome’s arm also meant to suggest that the death inscribed in the living body’s movements can also be a source of its sensual appeal? The compatibility of death with sensuality is the subject of 35 M M another extraordinary work: the Vatican Entombment (1602–04; ﬁg.
4 It is also a question of the interpretation of a soliciting look in one of Caravaggio’s most remarkable religious paintings, the Calling of St. Matthew (1600; ﬁg. 2). Here, however, the soliciting is wholly unambiguous. It is Christ beckoning to Matthew to follow him. But the painting satirizes such unidirectional invitations. Christ’s eyes are veiled, his outstretched hand seems somewhat deformed and points rather limply at Matthew,5 who prolongs the gesture by pointing—more forcefully than Christ himself does—perhaps toward himself, perhaps toward the ﬁgure just to his right.