Bringing Caravaggio to life with the National Gallery

In late 2016 – and this is something we’re incredibly proud of, as we were and are still a young PR agency – we worked with the National Gallery to recreate two of Caravaggio’s most famous paintings.

The aim was to promote the Gallery’s current ‘Beyond Caravaggio‘ exhibition and, having worked on installations, stunts and other creative public relations campaigns in the past, jumped at the chance to work with such a cultural institution.

But first, some background…

In the small town of Avigliano, southern Italy, on the last Sunday of every August, a festival called ‘Quadri Plastici’ enraptures visitors and residents.

Quadri Plastici, which translates to ‘plastic painting’, is a practise dating back more than 100 years, in which performers recreate artwork – using models, lights, props, box frames and music to “provide viewers with a visually striking new way to view contemporary work inspired by the artist”.

The group had recently performed on Italia’s Got Talent – it’s here we first became aware of Quadri Plastici:

After months of communication, preparation and meetings, we helped to bring the group’s incredible brand of living art to Trafalgar Square, right outside the Gallery.

What happened next…

As the helpful evening darkness crept in, dozens of performers, make-up artists, set builders, tailors and seamstresses put on a series of performances that captured both media and public interest, recreating ‘The Taking of Christ’ and ‘Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist’ in a way not previously seen outside of Italy.

The Times, Telegraph, BBC and many other outlets – including a large number of Italian titles – picked up on the story, and each performance was watched by hundreds.

Here’s the BBC’s coverage of the performances:

Here are the final images. Originals – The Taking of Christ and Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist:

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In the weekends following the campaign, the exhibition experienced ‘record’ footfall.

Here’s a video highlighting the campaign, in which you see the unveiling of the amazing masterpieces:

Here’s a good shot showing the work we put in to invite broadcasters and the wider media to attend:

(And here’s how many people it takes to make something like this happen – I’m hidden away at the back…!)

Radioactive PR agency - National Gallery