revolutionary for reason: consciousness of a tragic humanity

Horror. The world one usually associates with the work of Goya. Even in his brilliant early years as a court painter, an air of evil hung suspiciously in the background of his rococo paintings. Then, after his illness, they lept from the shadows, bursting through in a swirling, screaming apocalypse of Black Painting. Goya hated authority in its many incarnations and disguises;  the clergy, military, government; because he was aware that given the opportunity, they would exploit the helpless and needy, repressing them with the apparatus of force. It is this feeling of indignation which gives symbolic force to Goya’s work: there are always fresh batches of victims, like in the Third of May,  who are being driven forward out of the darkness to satisfy some need for sacrifice…

Goya. Third of May. "Had he been asked, amid the intellectual and political convulsions that tore Spain asunder between 1790 and 1815, "Whose side are you on?", he would have answered, "Reason's." For Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, the gilder's son from Aragon, did not have the education of a Diderot or a Rousseau, but he was completely a figure of the Enlightenment; his paintings and prints, with their obsessive imagery of the conflict of light and darkness, are perhaps its supreme metaphorical expression in European art outside of the classically formalized work of Jacques-Louis David. Read more:,9171,956813-2,00.html#ixzz1DnYML2Mc. image:

–Our idea of him has been so much shaped by the Romantic sensibility that pervaded Europe after his death that we still like to see him as a death-haunted, irrational loner, pitted by his – temperament against his times — the first skeptic of art, the titanic ancestor of surrealism. “It is when Goya abandons himself to his capacity for fantasy that he is most admirable,” wrote Theophile Gautier in 1842. “No one can equal him in making black clouds, filled with vampires and demons, rolling in the warm atmosphere of a stormy night.” The effect of this has been to pluck Goya out of his own age and put him in our own.Read more:,9171,956813,00.html#ixzz1DnVlmEdt a

They Say Yes and Give their Hand to the First Comer They say yes and give their hand to the first one who comes: depicts a beautiful young girl being married off to a breathtakingly ugly older man. Rather than having sympathy for the girl, Goya, by quoting a line from a poem by Jovellanos in his caption, is suggesting that the girl is marrying the old, ugly man for his money alone. They are engaged in a "pantomime" in which both are completely complicit. The lustful older man gets his trophy bride while the young woman achieves financial security. read more:

Of all the great masters of the past to be claimed as THE ancestor of the modern, Goya is the odds-on winner. ROnatics seem nourished by his violence, and realists can correctly point out that in a time of synthetic, superficial, bourgeois painting, Goya founded a style not geared to formula but in the streets. Social rebels or painters of social consciousness feel that they are the descendants of Goya the liberal thinker, who drew and painted his indictments instead of writing them down. Fantasists recognize a kinship with a master of nightmare. Even non-figurative artists can pull upon parts of his late work claiming it as a prophesy of the abstract-expressionist aesthetic.

Goya painted this portrait of Don Manuel Osorio, son of a nobleman arond 1788. It is a serene epitome of childhood, and yet, what of the cats staring so fixedly at the magpie? Soon such disquieting effects , here in the background, would come to dominate his work. Read more:

And yet Goya is also the antithesis of these plausible modernisms, convenient though they may be. He was a first rate rococo decorator; in many portraits he revealed himself as the natural follower of Velasquez’s baroque tradition. The lesson then is never to look at a Goya and exclaim over its beauties, its power, and its significance from any standard preconception of what his art is all about.

There is a case for Goya as the first great modern artist, because of his fascination with the irrational and his critical rage against church and class. Indeed, the inscriptions on two of his prints — Y no hai remedio (And there is no remedy), referring to the shooting of bound prisoners in the series titled Disasters of War, and El sueno de la razon produce monstruos (The sleep of reason brings forth monsters), the title page of his Caprichos — seem as fixed above the wars, pogroms and massacres of the 20th century as Dante’s words “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” were on the adamantine gates of hell.Read more:,9171,956813,00.html#ixzz1DnWfQXHs a

"Out Hunting for Teeth The young woman, recoiling in fear at the sight of the hanged man, is nevertheless reaching greedily into his mouth for his teeth, which are precious ingredients for magic potions." read more:

Kenneth Clark: CAN THE INSTANTANEOUS become permanent? Can a flash be prolonged without losing its intensity? Can the shock of a sudden revelation survive the mechanics by which a big picture is composed? Almost the only affirmative answer in painting is Goya’s picture of a firing squad, known as The Third of May. Coming on it in the Prado with one’s head full of Titian, Velasquez and Rubens, it deals a knock out blow. One suddenly realises how much rhetoric even the greatest painters have employed in their efforts to make us believe in their subjects. Delacroix’s Massacre at Chios, for example: it was painted ten years later than The Third of May, and it might have been painted two hundred years earlier. The figures are sincerely expressive of Delacroix’s feelings, both as a man and a painter. They are pathetic, but they are posed. We can imagine the admirable studies that preceded them. With Goya we do not think of the studio or even of the artist at work. We think only of the event. … Read More: a

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---They Carried her Off The plate is one of Goya's particularly forceful indictments against violence towards women. The perpetrators remain anonymous; the one at the back is wearing a monk's habit. Only the woman's head is rendered in detail.--- Read More:

…In fact the scene is lit by the lantern on the ground, a hard white cube in contrast to the tattered shape of the white shirt. This concentration of light, coming from low down, gives the feeling of a scene on the stage; and the buildings against the dark sky remind me of a backcloth. And yet the picture is far from being theatrical in the sense of unreal, for at no point has Goya forced or over emphasised a gesture. Even the purposeful repetition of the soldiers’ movement is not formalised, as it would have been in official decorative art, and the hard shapes of their helmets seem to deliver their blows irregularly….

Goya. Blind Man Playing a Guitar 1778. Alan Woods: In another famous painting - Blind Man Playing a Guitar (see the Gallery) - we see a blind beggar with a guitar singing for a group of well dressed young ladies and gentlemen. The depiction of these characters is in Goya's usual style of that period. But when we examine the face of the blind beggar we can already discern the nightmarish characters of his later work. There is nothing human about this face at all. Behind the polite façade of genteel society the forces of ignorance and barbarism are lurking. read more: image:

The Third of May is a work of the imagination. Goya is sometimes spoken of as a realist, but if the word means anything, it means a man who paints what he can see and only what he can see. Read More: a

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