Seeing and Knowing and Caravaggio

by Bernard Berenson. Macmillan, $3.50 each.
In the first of the above titles, Mr. Berenson discourses on the theme that the visual arts are a compromise — one that varies according to the prevailing convention — between what we see and what we know: the painter sees a mass of foliage but he knows that it is composed of individual leaves. This leads Berenson into a scathing attack on modern art in which, at least to anyone with some feeling for nonrepresentational art, the great critic does not show up at his best. Berenson ends by predicting a return to representation. In this and the Caravaggio book, there are eightyeight photographs of art works referred to in the text.
The first part of Caravaggio is a detailed analysis of his important authenticated paintings; the second discusses his style in broader terms and also his influence. Berenson rejects the view of certain critics that Caravaggio was an initiator of the baroque. “Caravaggio,” Berenson concludes, “deserves to be regarded as the most anti-baroque artist of the XVIIth century.”