Fr. Robert Keffer to Present Art Talk on Caravaggio Feb. 1

by Public Relations | Jan 23, 2018

Jan. 24, 2018

Fr. Robert Keffer, O.S.B.Fr. Robert Keffer, O.S.B., a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey and director of the Saint Vincent Gallery will present an art lecture and Power Point presentation at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, in the Luparello Lecture Hall in the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion on the campus of Saint Vincent College. The talk is titled, “The Chiaroscuro of God: Light and Shadow, Sin and Redemption in the Sacred Art of Michelangelo Merisi Di Caravaggio.” Admission is free and open to the public. Refreshments will follow the lecture.

Keffer’s talk will explore the use of light and shadow, known as chiaroscuro, in the religious works of the Baroque Italian artist Caravaggio. He will discuss not only the technical aspects of Caravaggio’s paintings but their deep spiritual significance as well.

“Caravaggio was not only an artist of personal and profound imagery but he acts as visual window to Catholic Counter Reformation theology, the turbulent religious and political atmosphere of 16th century Italy, and the conflicts between official religious art and the spiritual needs and artistic tastes of the common people,” Keffer commented.

Keffer believes that the dramatic use of light and dark found in Caravaggio’s work is indicative of the artist’s own mental and spiritual anguish, as well as the artistic representational tension between flesh and spirit, sin and salvation, and life and death.

“Although receiving many important church commissions, Caravaggio was often at odds with the artistic standards set by the Council of Trent; and many of his most famous works caused scandal,” Keffer said. “Caravaggio’s own life was shadowed by illness, notoriety, violence and death. Always irascible and choleric, he was guilty of murdering a compatriot during a duel. He preferred the company of street people, thieves and prostitutes to cardinals and princes. He was imprisoned on the Island of Malta, escaped, continued his career under great emotional duress in Sicily and then died under mysterious circumstances on his return to Rome. Yet, this man whose life was less than holy is one of the most beloved and respected artists of the Catholic faith. Caravaggio’s dark shadows and sober style always led to the dramatic light that only Christ’s redemption can give. It is fitting that this lecture will occur on the eve of the Feast of the Presentation, where we leave the darkness of winter and come closer to spring, and the Catholic church celebrates the coming of the light of Christ into the world.”

This lecture will be of interest not only to artists and art lovers, but to anyone interested in how art intersects with theology, philosophy and history.

Keffer is a painter and art lecturer who serves as a chaplain at Excela Health Latrobe Hospital, and is sacramental minister to St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s Catholic Churches in West Salisbury. He plans to continue his artistic education at the Savanah (Georgia) School of Art in the fall.

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Photo: Fr. Robert Keffer, O.S.B.

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