Los caprichos: a wasteland of reason

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.

Goya. This is Worse. A tree trunk pierces the body and emerges at the shoulder - not a realistic scene of war, but Goya's vision of a martyred man. read more: http://www.hoocher.com/Francisco_de_Goya/Francisco_de_Goya.htm

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:

Goya. Second of May. 1808. Lisa Abend: But the renewed colors do more than add vibrancy; they help Goya tell his story. Released from decades of yellowed varnish, a tiny white spot in The Second of May draws the gaze to a horse's muzzle, and from there, up to the animal's penetrating eyes, which stare at the viewer in terrified accusation, as if to say, "Look at what you've done." Bloodspecked bodies crumpled at the bottom of each painting now form a single visual line and provide a graphic reminder that the French massacre of "innocent" militiamen occurred only after the Spanish had slaughtered their share of French soldiers. "Look at their faces: Goya doesn't present them as innocent," says Mena. "Violence begets violence." Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1731311,00.html#ixzz1Dw943NFa

…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

"Nothing Could be Done About it Those condemned by the Inquisition were publicly paraded wearing a distinctive conical hat signaling their disgrace.In 1807 a French traveller in Valencia watched an alleged witch, "her upper body bared to the waist", being lead through every quarter of the town." read more: http://www.hoocher.com/Francisco_de_Goya/Francisco_de_Goya.htm

…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

Goya. Burial of the Sardine. Abend: Nevertheless, few subjects escape the artist's bleak skepticism. Still lifes tend to comment on the transience of things, but Goya's piles of lifeless fish and game lend unexpected violence to this theme: the white fur of a rabbit's belly exposes the wound where it was shot; the blank eyes of a lamb's skull look disconsolately at its butchered torso. Equally unsettling, a large painting of The Taking of Christ is notable less for the sorrowful figure at its center than for the jeering, crazed mob that surrounds him. The same menacing irrationality appears in disturbing later works such as The Burial of the Sardine and Procession of Flagellants — the former an attack on superstitious folk celebrations, the latter on Catholic ritual. In Goya's view, such misguided practices were invigorated by the upheaval of war. Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1731311,00.html#ixzz1DwBRbGlc

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

Look What a tailor Can Do. "Here I

note Goya’s clever title, which questions the identity of the “tailor,” the one who created and dressed up the scarecrow. Goya understood the tailor to be Spain’s ruling class, which in part held power by sustaining ignorance, reactionary political traditions, and promoting blinkered and proscriptive religious ideas. As it was in the past, so it is today." read more: http://art-for-a-change.com/blog/2010/06/goya-los-caprichos-in-los-angeles.html


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