Last month, my best friend got me a Van Gogh shirt and socks for my birthday. Both the socks and the shirt had Almond Blossoms depicted on them. Van Gogh is a popular artist to put on clothing items. He is universally loved and his work is well known across the world. There are other artists who share this type of recognition: Salvador Dali for his clocks, Claude Monet for his water lilies, Michelangelo for the hands of God and Adam, and so many others. It’s no wonder why you see these artists so often: they are what many think of when you ask them for their favorite artist. However, there are so many amazing artists that are not as known outside of the art world, but are considered the experts within it. I recently found the website GalArtsy, that makes art merchandise that includes artists like Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi, and I’d like to share it with you!
These are some of the greatest artists I’ve learned about, but I have to admit that I was caught off guard when I first saw the merchandise with Caravaggio’s work on it. How would you like boots with the Crucifixion of Saint Peter on them? How about a sweatshirt with The Entombment of Christ? (Side note: my dad said that would be a good shirt to wear to Easter, if anyone needed an outfit recommendation!).
Both Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi were Baroque painters. The Baroque focused on drama, using contrasting darks and lights to emphasize a dramatic scene. Often, these were religious paintings, which were made as a response to the Counter Reformation. This meant that depictions of martydoms, crucifixions, and death in general were common, and were often gruesome. Wearing the death of Christ is very different from wearing the bright colors of Starry Night.
I do have to say that, despite the initial shock of seeing Caravaggio on a pair of shoes, I found myself feeling happy to see it. I’m currently taking an art history course on Baroque Art with Dr. Irwin, and we recently looked at Caravaggio. I personally love the Baroque period, especially Caravaggio’s influence: he was non-traditional, and experimented a lot with his depictions, and many disliked his approach. I like to think that Caravaggio set up future artists to experiment with their own work. We see the explosion of this experimentation in Pop Art, Post-Impressionism, and Dada. The art world has expanded so much that seeing a Caravaggio does not initially feel like you’re seeing an artist take risks; he doesn’t use colors like Matisse or abstract shapes like Picasso. However, he was constantly experimenting, working quickly and without prior approval of patrons – something the patrons did not like. Knowing that he did take such great risks makes him stand out that much more. I think that’s why I, along with so many others, love Caravaggio; he was one of the first to show how successful breaking the mold can be. So why wouldn’t any art lover want to wear his work as a shirt? It’s the same reason why I have a Van Gogh tapestry up in my dorm; humans want to show off the things that inspire us, to show how much love we have for them.
Be sure to check out GalArtsy for all of their art merchandise from your favorite artists, from Michelangelo to Frida Kahlo to Gustav Klimt! They have a wide range of beautiful phone cases, accessories, and shirts for you to pick from. Personally, I’m very intrigued at the idea of wearing Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes. Who wouldn’t want to show off not only the work of an amazing female artist, but the depiction of a woman beheading a male invader that no one else could take down? I know I would!