formafantasma sets the stage for caravaggio-bernini exhibit at amsterdam`s rijksmuseum

Designboom_ formafantasma — the studio led by simone farresin and andrea trimarchi — has designed a new exhibition at amsterdam’s rijksmuseum dedicated to caravaggio, gian lorenzo bernini, and their contemporaries. titled ‘caravaggio-bernini. baroque in rome’, the display features more than 70 paintings and sculptures, which have been loaned from museums and private collections around the world.

the exhibit, which remains on view at the rijksmuseum until june 7, 2020, celebrates the baroque movement of the early 17th century. painter caravaggio and sculptor bernini introduced a new artistic language that dispensed with elegance and incited the emotions — a revolution in western art that started in rome and resonated throughout europe. presented together, their works tell a story of immense artistic vigor and exemplify the radical renewal in the arts that took place between 1600 and 1640.

in designing the exhibit, formafantasma — appropriately led by two italian designers based in amsterdam — chose an elegant, understated style that lets the baroque artworks take center stage. the use of color and material — including the integration of kvadrat fabrics and warm hues — creates a contemporary environment for the 17th-century art. different colors have been used to define different areas of the exhibition, with consistent color applied to both displays and furniture.

contrasting the way works by caravaggio and bernini are usually presented in dark environments with dramatic lighting, formafantasma chose to emphasize the contemporary and radical qualities of their work. for example, caravaggio’s often dark paintings have been surrounded with softer colors to tone down the contrast with the museum’s bright white walls. ‘the exhibition design uses a contemporary selection of nuances impossible to be achieved at the time when the artists were working,’ explain the designers.

highlights of the exhibition include caravaggio’s narcissus, his boy bitten by a lizard, and the crowning with thorns.meanwhile, the bernini sculptures on view include the rarely exhibited early work bacchus, his poignant saint sebastian, and the bust of medusa. other paintings in the exhibition are by ludovico and annibale carraci, guido reni, giovanni baglione, the gentileschis, nicolas poussin, simon vouet, and the eccentric artist tanzio da varallo. ‘caravaggio-bernini. baroque in rome’ remains on view until june 7, 2020.