At first, the decision felt unconscious. An extra letter that turned a familiar word into something new. I liked the way it looked, and I liked the way it sounded: baroquen. I said it out loud and then thought, perhaps it's too close to "broken" to make sense. And suddenly I was reminded of a terrible pun that I'd heard at least twenty times in the first few years of graduate school. "If it ain't baroque... don't fix it." This joke had come up at cocktail parties and dinners, family gatherings, chance encounters. I'd always rolled my eyes at it, and suddenly here it was, in large font, at the top of my header, having subconsciously climbed to the surface and made itself at home.
But it's since occurred to me that this unconscious title holds certain truths. The 17th century was full of shifts and overturnings. Things could be broken: rules, expectations. The incredible popularity and expansion of genre painting- the lowest rung on the hierarchical 'ladder' of art- confounded purists and broke market records. The 'rebel' Caravaggio has become a poster boy- largely thanks to his own iconoclastic self-promotion- for breaking the rules of the studio. Rembrandt's thickly-painted impasto broke the surface of the picture plane and extended towards our three-dimensional reality. And the divide between earthly spectator and divine subject could be altered, bridged, broken, with the empathetic visuality of the Counter-Reformation's new standards for religious painting.
Some things that are broken don't require fixing: one of these things is, of course, new ground. So I am eager to explore the beautifully broken, vibrant world of the baroque with all of you, starting today. Thank you for reading!