The Lost Genius

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Recently, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) has opened a new exhibit with an old artist. Featuring Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, an artist once renowned for his beautiful and truly unique style, Castiglione: Lost Genius will be showcased on August 9th through November 8th 2015.

Born in Genoa, Italy in the early 17th century, the only education in art that Castiglione received was from local Genoese artists and then years later skilled Roman painters and sketchers.

In his early career as an artist he travelled to Rome with hope that his art would become discovered and that wealth would be in store. Once in Rome, violence broke out when “competing” artists teased and doubted his art. Many quarrels ended with a fight and a frustrated Castiglione.

Using a technique that is now called monotyping, Castiglione used an intricate procedure to create some of his finest works. Monotyping meant that one had to pour ink on a copper plate and use the end of a brush to etch out the ink resulting in the white figures on a print. Once the artist was complete with the etching they would then place a damp piece of paper over the ink and then the illustration printed onto the paper.

“Castiglione was a brilliant artist who blurred the lines of artistic media through draftsmanship to achieve his own creative ends,” states Timothy Standring, co-curator of Castiglione: Lost Genius.

The art is truly exceptional and this forgotten artist had a thoroughly interesting life that involved several accusations of murder and strong violence towards those who doubted his artistic techniques. Castiglione’s art can be described as a beautiful mixture of pen and paint that work together to create somewhat colorless portraits, landscapes, and animals conveying a seemingly intricate story portrayed through the masterful skill of making something abstract in a way that everything is clear.