Recovering Lost Fictions: Caravaggio's Musicians

1997, MIT List Visual Arts Center
Book cover for Recovering Lost Fictions: Caravaggio's Musicians featuring a close up of Caravaggio painting of 3 musicians with slack expressions facing different ways wearing red and white togas.
1997, MIT List Visual Arts Center

paper, 13 pages, color reproductions

The catalogue Recovering Lost Fictions both documents and supports the eponymous installation/collaboration between contemporary artists Kathleen Gilje and Joseph Grigely shown at the List Visual Arts Center during Fall 1997. The installation explored the ways in which art is reconfigured by the institutional processes devoted to its study by examining a remarkable, recently restored second version of Caravaggio’s masterpiece The Musicians, the fully authenticated version of which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition examined the restoration, and subsequent attribution of the second, as yet unauthenicated version, recently restored in New York by Gilje. The purpose is to show how one painting has more than one history, and how the processes of conservation and art criticism contribute towards the construction of these histories.

The catalogue itself, a carefully researched and documented study, explores the relationship between the two versions of The Musicians in the context of Caravaggio’s social and cultural milieu. Modeled after the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., exhibition brochures focusing on a single work, the catalogue offers images of both versions of The Musicians as well as X-rays made during the restoration that reveal that the artist had initially painted, then painted over, an extraordinary incident among the three musicians. With an essay by Joseph Grigely.