3 rd of may: shoot in may and go away

Like all great historical and philosophical themes, analyzing the Third of May is somewhat vulnerable to some superficial and not necessarily valid interpretations. The originality of Goya’s treatment in his depiction of the executioners. Where they might expectedly have be represented as villains or fiends, they are mere robots: anonymous inhuman forms. Thus, by way of contrast, the men who in a moment will fall to their bullets are endowed with eternal life. Just how the reactionary authorities rationalized these pictures is hard to understand. Most likely, Goya’s eminence and his tactful reversion to political reticence accounted for the fact that he remained unmolested.

"The Disparates or Proverbios was the fourth and final series produced by Goya. They were published after his death and have always been surrounded by a certain air of mystery. Their production appear to have coincided with another relapse into illness (1819). He may have worked on them until 1824 in the period of the Black Paintings. They consist of 22 prints, etchings and aquatints. They are works full of allusions, memories taken from his past, laden with allegory, full of hard-edged pessimism and a true apotheosis of the irrational. 20 preparatory drawings have been preserved. " read more: http://goya.unizar.es/InfoGoya/Work/Disparates.html image: http://www.chrislee.org.uk/InspiringCreativity/unit%204.htm

Kenneth Clark:So, far from being a glorified press photograph, The Third of May was painted as a commission six years after the event and it is certain that Goya had not been an eyewitness. it is not the record of a single episode, but a grim reflection on the whole nature of power. Goya was born in the age of reason and after his illness he was obsessed by all that could happen to humanity when reason lost control. In The Third of May he shows one aspect of the irrational, the predetermined brutality of men in uniform. By a stroke of genius he has contrasted the fierce repetition of the soldiers’ attitudes and the steely line of their rifles, with the crumbling irregularity of their target. As I look at the firing squad I remember that artists have been symbolising merciless conformity by this kind of repetition since the very beginning of art. One finds it in the bowmen on Egyptian reliefs, in the warriors of Assur Nasir Pal, in the repeated shields of the giants on the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi. in all these monuments power is conveyed by abstract shapes. But the victims of power are not abstract. They are as shapeless and pathetic as old sacks; they are huddled together like animals. In the face of Murat’s firing squad they cover their eyes, or clasp their hands in prayer. And in the middle a man with a dark face throws up his arms, so that his death is a sort of crucifixion. His white shirt, laid open to the rifles, is the flash of inspiration which has ignited the whole design. Read More: http://www.artchive.com/artchive/G/goya/may_3rd.jpg.html a

"Created between 1815 and 1824, during a last lapse in his health, Los Disparates was Goya’s last major project in printmaking and is considered his best for the virtuosity in engraving, control of color tonalities and use of aquatint and drypoint. Because of its highly personal nature, this series is also considered the most difficult to understand and interpret. Each image is a cryptic visual of various proverbs. Goya was over 70-years-old when he completed the series, almost totally deaf, and living a lonely, solitary life on the outskirts of Madrid. Los Disparates was not published until 1864, 36 years after Goya’s death." read more: https://parkwestgallery.wordpress.com/tag/los-proverbios/ image: http://popartmachine.com/item/pop_art/BMFA-BMFA.109-20/FRANCISCO-GOYA-Y-LUCIENTES-LOS-PROVERBIOS:-4-BOBABILICON-%28DISPARATES%29-DE-BO

Between 1815 and 1816, Goya completed his third series of etchings, the “Tauromachia” , which related the history of the sport of bullfighting. But he had also been at work since 1813 on a fourth series , which extended the nightmares of the “Los Caprichos”. By 1823-24 he had completed the twenty-two plates now known, plus probably some that are lost. He called them the “Disparates” or “Follies” , though they are usually given the name “Proverbios”. The exact subjects are seldom identifiable; some even indeed to be illustrations of Spanish proverbs, but there are others that can only be interpreted  as personal visions of evil as the indomitable source of universal energy.

Goya. Third of may 1808. Alan Woods: Wars in Spain - and especially civil wars - have always been accompanied by the most ferocious cruelty and fanaticism. The long wars between Christians and Moors that lasted hundreds of years injected a note of religious fanaticism into these conflicts that established a tradition that outlived its original causes. The Peninsular War was characterised by extreme brutality. The civilian population suffered most. In this long and bloody conflict, which in many respects resembles the war in Vietnam. There was no such thing as a non-combatant: men, women and children, young and old, were all involved. Atrocities were the norm." read more:http://www.marxist.com/ArtAndLiterature-old/goya_2.html image: http://www.shafe.co.uk/art/Goya_The_Executions_of_the_Third_of_May_1808.asp

As black as this concept may be, it is not exactly despairing. While Goya offers no hope for the triumph of good, and while he refuses to recognize evil as anything but evil, he pictures it not with futility but with unrelenting vigor and passion. He is never admiring of witches and devils, but there is definitely an undercurrent of macabre fascination; no consentment as a partner in this drama, yet no rebellion as a victim as well. The question then inevitably turns on a creaky hinge of an ambivalent attitude that has no symptoms of the morally trite.

Kenneth Clark on “The Third of May” : This is the first great picture which can be called revolutionary in every sense of the word in style, in subject and in intention; and it should be a model for the socialist and revolutionary painting of the present day. Unfortunately social indignation, like other abstract emotions, is not a natural generator of art; also Goya’s combination of gifts has proved to be very rare. Almost all the painters who have treated such themes have been illustrators first and artists second. Instead of allowing their feelings about an event to form a corresponding pictorial symbol in their minds, they have tried to reconstruct events, as remembered by witnesses, according to pictorial possibilities. The result is an accumulation of formulas. But in The Third of May not a single stroke is done according to formula. At every point Goya’s flash lit eye and his responsive hand have been at one with his indignation. Read More: http://www.artchive.com/artchive/G/goya/may_3rd.jpg.html a

"Asmodea is also known as Asmodeus, Sabbath, or Fantastic vision. It is a strange painting of two people flying through the air. It is unclear who they are, or why they are flying. They have been identified as witches on their way to a witches' sabbath, but they don't look at all like the witches of The witches' sabbath. The title Asmodea was first used by Antonio Brugada, who has known Goya and may well have heard the title from Goya. Asmodea is probably the female form of Asmodeus, an evil spirit mentioned in the apocryphical bible book Tobit (ch. 3), but I don't see what Asmodeus and the people in this painting have in common. The soldiers on the foreground are probably aiming at the people in the distance, ignoring the flying figures. The flying figures are obviously ignoring the soldiers - one of them is pointing in the distance, to something we can't see, the other is looking back. The flying figures and the soldiers seem to be in different worlds, unable to see each other." read more: http://www.hbvk.com/ct/black/negra14.htm

Nobody was spared. The bestiality of this war is conveyed by the following description of the scene after the fall of Badajoz:
“Badajoz was a terrible place after that night. Edward Costello of the 95th remembered: ‘The shouts and oaths of drunken soldiers in quest of more liquor, the reports of fire-arms and the crashing in of doors, together with the appalling shrieks of hapless women, might have induced anyone to believe himself in the regions of the damned.’ Private John Spencer Cooper of the 7th Fusiliers admitted that: ‘All orders ceased. Plunder was the order of the night. Some got loaded with plate, etc.; then beastly drunk; and lastly, were robbed by others. This lasted until the second day after.’ Lieutenant William Grattan was equally shocked by men who would fall ‘upon the already too deeply injured females, and tear from them the trinkets that adorned their necks, fingers or ears! And finally, they would strip them of their wearing apparel […] Many men were flogged, but although the contrary has been said, none were hanged – yet hundreds deserved it.” (R. Holmes, Wellington, the Iron Duke, p. 161.) Read More: http://www.marxist.com/ArtAndLiterature-old/goya_2.html

It is well to remember that these atroci

were perpetrated against the Spanish people by British troops – who were supposed to have been sent to Spain to “liberate” Spain from Napoleon. This will sound like a very familiar story to the people of Iraq today. The atrocities carried out by the French against the Spanish, and by the Spanish against the French were even worse:

“One French officer saw a hospital in which 400 men had been hacked to pieces and 53 buried alive, and on another occasion a single French soldier was left alive, although with his ears cuts off, to testify to the murder and mutilation of 1,200 of his wounded comrades: the experience drove him mad.” Read More: http://www.marxist.com/ArtAndLiterature-old/goya_2.html

In Goya’s Greatest Scenes We Seem to See …

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see
the people of the world
exactly at the moment when
they first attained the title of
‘suffering humanity’
They writhe upon the page
in a veritable rage
of adversity
Heaped up
groaning with babies and bayonets
under cement skies
in an abstract landscape of blasted trees
bent statues bats wings and beaks
slippery gibbets
cadavers and carnivorous cocks
and all the final hollering monsters
of the
‘imagination of disaster’
they are so bloody real
it is as if they really still existed

And they do

Only the landscape is changed

They still are ranged along the roads
plagued by legionnaires
false windmills and demented roosters
They are the same people
only further from home
on freeways fifty lanes wide
on a concrete continent
spaced with bland billboards
illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness

The scene shows fewer tumbrils
but more strung-out citizens
in painted cars
and they have strange license plates
and engines
that devour America

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0 Responses to 3 rd of may: shoot in may and go away

  1. mason says:

    Fantastic. A nice read: The Forms of Violence: Narrative in Assyrian Art and Modern Culture. Leo Bersani & Ulysse Dutoit

    After my harrowing final year in school i hung out almost exclusively with Goya, not going going home, not seeing anyone, not doing nothing for a couple months. Never “got well,” but i began to walk around the planet convincingly.

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