Mc Guinness' Exploration Of Caravaggio In "Innocence"

1410 words - 6 pages

Although Innocence is a fictional piece of literature it is still clear that McGuinness has indeed explored the real life artist Caravaggio and his art within the play. McGuinness has showed both in Innocence and also Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme that he has a great interest in the persona of the artists themselves. It is through both the strong characters of Caravaggio and Pyper and the world McGuinness has placed them in that we get a true sense of McGuinness’ plays as exploring the world of art. To expose how McGuinness does this I will be delving into the characters of both artists he has invented. It is then necessary to examine the social context of the world in which McGuinness has placed these characters to fully understand these plays as exploring the world of art. The artist and their art have to be closely looked at in conjunction with the society they are placed in to truly get a sense of the world of art McGuinness is exploring.
McGuinness was intrigued by the notoriety of Caravaggio and it is on the eccentric artist that he built the play Innocence on. McGuinness was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish literature in 1985 which enabled him to see a full exhibit of Caravaggio’s paintings. In Helen Lojek’s book, Contexts for Frank McGuinness’s Drama, She notes that from this exhibition he brought home a catalogue full of handwritten notes. It is obvious that McGuinness had an instant reaction and compulsion to write on Caravaggio. McGuinness consciously and carefully structured this play. This is evident as we see in part I of the play in that it is centred on Caravaggio’s life, and part II on Caravaggio’s death. Although Innocence is heavily fictionalised it is actually McGuinness’ interpretation of a real life artist and his works. McGuinness has investigated Caravaggio’s life and art pieces and drawn from them to produce this play. We are introduced to Caravaggio’s violent, tumultuous character right from the onset of the play in the dream sequence. This is true to the real life character of Caravaggio which McGuinness has been drawn to from his pictures, which he saw firsthand in both Florence and Naples. It is clear that McGuinness felt compelled in some way to the character of Caravaggio. McGuinness’s interest led him to seek possible answers to Caravaggio’s notoriety. He wanted to explore the Caravaggio’s world entirely.
It is evident that McGuinness had a clear fascination with the mentality behind the artist himself. Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme confirms this as well as Innocence. In both plays McGuinness has portrayed the protagonists as eccentric figures. Pyper and Caravaggio are linked in many ways. Both plays display McGuinness’s obsession with the psyche of the artists. Both characters are in some kind of turmoil with a sense of madness. In Innocence we see this throughout. Caravaggio’s company consists of rent boys and prostitutes and these encounters are filled...

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