But if Francisco Goya saw vice, corruption and foolishness in high places, Goya, unlike many of his contemporaries in France and England , did not discover a compensatory nobility in the common man. In fact, the contrary. His first great etchings, the set of eighty called “Los Caprichos”, -Caprices- are fantastic visions of universal greed, vanity, superstition, and cruelty: personifications of stupidity that were the Four Horsemen of Goya’s own apocalypse. His friends in Madrid were the intellectuals who represented the Enlightenment, the triumph of reason. But he seldom shows reason or truth as anything but hard-pressed, and unequal to the challenge. Vice and folly are victors in a war that they do not even bother to wage, so negligible are the positive forces in human nature pitted against them.
In “Los Caprichos” Goys continued to find inspiration in the foibles of city life, but the sinister hints that he had previously brought to attention in such themes now became the central subject. His nightmares anticipate a concept of society that is similar to our own times: that of a precarious structure held together by a thin skin of conventions that the irrational pressures motivating all of us may cause to burst at any moment.The reason why this art still impacts on us in such a powerful way is that it reminds us of the world in which we live. That is what makes these images so disturbing. Behind the polite façade of genteel society the forces of ignorance and barbarism are lurking:
…This is a very accurate observation, and it is corroborated by every decisive stage in history, including the present period. We like to think of ourselves as civilized human beings, as opposed to savages. However, the history of the last decade, not to speak of the last hundred years, does not supply much evidence for this belief. In reality, the civilization that has been built up painfully over the last 10,000 years or so is a very thin layer. And beneath this thin layer the forces of barbarism still exist and can burst through to the surface at any moment. Indeed, the contradictions of modern global capitalism are reproducing these tendencies on an unprecedentedly vast scale and lending them a particularly convulsive and destructive character.Read More: http://www.marxist.com/ArtAndLiterature-old/goya_1.html a
…Therefore Goya always speaks to us in a language we can understand. This is art that immediately communicates with us – art that connects, because it has something to say. The art of Goya has a tremendous range – from the pure, translucent light and fresh colours of the early paintings to the utter darkness at the end. The art of the later period is quite different. This is a world of humans who have been cast into the outer darkness, where the only colour is black, and the only sounds are wailing and gnashing of teeth, the only scent is the smell of death and decay. It is a picture of horror without end. The subject matter consists of corrupt priests, whores, beggars and witches. This is a world peopled by demons and nightmarish visions, governed by ignorance, superstition and chaos. Read More: http://www.marxist.com/ArtAndLiterature-old/goya_1.html a
This was a very great extension of the first, tentative suggestion, made by such eighteenth-century occultists as Swedenborg, Martinez Pasqualis, Mesmer, and others, that the world of dreams can reveal truths that we have concealed from ourselves.
It was the unpredictable quirks and impulses of those guided by superstition or a lust for power that Goya castigated with his etchings. Translated into English Capricho means, “Caprice,” or “Whim,” but while the artist portrayed the follies and weaknesses of individuals in his print series, he always remained cognizant of how larger social forces manipulated and corrupted people. His prints are in essence a stinging critique against placing the interests of the few above the rights of the many – a concept all too relevant for the year 2010.Read More: http://art-for-a-change.com/blog/2010/06/goya-los-caprichos-in-los-angeles.html a