Last Night: Caraccio Master of Imitationism

Last night, Art Attack put on our nicest beret and made our way to the posh La Colombe d'Or Hotel for an opening, of sorts, of the collection of Italian painter and sculptor Francesco Caraccio. Caraccio has been creating works in and around Europe for the past four decades and his efforts have been celebrated with various awards and exhibitions, including pieces in the Vatican Collection.

The current works, presented by Stephen Zimmerman and the Colombe d'Or Hotel, were scattered about the private third floor invitingly. There were more than 40 paintings on display, ranging in size, color palette and perceived intent, but if you closed your eyes and reopened them, you might recall ten, at best. The majority of the collection is recent; most were created in the past three or four years following a long spell of depression from which Caraccio emerged into his own personal renaissance.

The artist is being described as the "Master of Expressionism," but his work appeared to be more influenced by cubism or the short-lived fauvism. Multiple pieces were easily Picasso inspired, if not replicated, but imitation is, of course, the highest form of flattery. Images of faces and figures painted over and over again, with skewed features, Yin/Yang silhouettes and hollowed-out eyes -- just felt all too familiar.

Caraccio's "flattery" ventured into Degas's famed ballet-themed works as well. These were some of my favorites. Degas's "Dancers at the Bar" became devoid of grace and poise; they stared in the distance uncomfortably, almost ugly, in their self-doubt.

The collection is on display for the next few weeks, with a decision to be made during that time where it should go next. If you are a collector, his work is sure to be a valuable investment, and the collection at hand is the only place in the country with which to purchase the artist's wares. But if you are going to invest $20,000 in a piece of art, see what you can find in a really cheap Picasso.

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