viscious frailties at the most extreme

At the Spanish court, Goya was advantageously placed to observe vicious frailties at their most extreme. At the time that he became Painter of the Household, Charles IV had just succeeded to the throne in place of an elder brother widely regarded as a dolt and imbecile. Notwithstanding, Charles was not exactly a quantum leap being himself a vain simpleton.

Goya. Naked Maja. Alan Woods: the subject of the celebrated twin paintings of the Maja, with and without clothes, was not the Duchess but another woman - possibly one of the mistress of Godoy, the Spanish prime minister. Goya never revealed her identity, but whoever she was, he made her immortal. Today it is difficult to realise just how revolutionary this painting was at the time. Since Spain had almost no tradition of paintings of nude women (Velazquez's famous Venus of the mirror is an exception), this was a very daring thing to do. Goya was defying the orders of the Church and the Inquisition. For its enticing sensuousness the Naked Maja has few equals in world art. Here we are still in that marvellous world of sweetness and light, of youth and love, of radiant beauty and colour that celebrates the human form in all its glory, in defiance of the prejudices of religion and society. It says to us: let us live and love, for life is short. Just how short, however, Goya did not realise. For this was already a doomed world, tottering on an abyss. read more: image:

Its been said or implied by a number of the great art experts  that there is an axiom that the ironic underpinning of aesthetic happiness is an unhappy consciousness of history. At this abyss, confronting the nightmares of history,the artist peers into its nihilistic depths, emptying and consuming  the symbols that are created to  humanize  inhumanity; Goya established the iconography that became the standard  depiction of its victims in its war imagery which opened the gates to the evocation of grotesque, uncooked destructiveness. Goya and later Otto Dix flipped the classic tradition to reveal the worms and bugs under the boulder, the rock of Sisyphus, that recognized the realization that history, now an industrial age beast, could stimulate  too much anxiety to be depicted with a comprehensive or coherent objectivity. …

Pierre Tristam: So focusing on the violence triggered by cartoongate is a dodge convenient to both East and West. It helps the Muslim East continue to pretend that simply saying bromides like “Islam is a religion of peace” can make it so. It helps the West hide behind a façade of tolerance and enlightenment that hasn’t kept its own demagogues from grabbing power by manufacturing fears and appealing to prejudice. The joint appearance by George Bush and King Abdullah of Jordan last week gelled it: The lawless, lying, fear-baiting, war-mongering president and the generic Arab despot, whose torture-jails are a favorite CIA lay-over, preaching peace, respect for law and an end to violence. Mel Brooks couldn’t write comedy like that. read more:

…It can even be asserted that Goya was an early critic of capitalism; the use and abuse of the peasantry to further Spain’s imperial pretensions. There is a tendency to B.S. his art in the mass media, particularly Hollywood; making it distilled, neutered and emasculated through such nonsense as Goya in Bordeaux and Goya’s Ghosts. These popular  endeavors transform Goya into the realm of pop culture by neutralizing critical elements into cheap entertainment: more directly, an easily swallowed synthetic into its   assimilation into the society of the spectacle- think Guy Debord- that is the cultural habitat, wildlife preserve that has been created as inhabitable civilized vending machine.  Unfortunately, this is  the inconsequential and demeaning destiny Hollywood reserves  for artists who are, or would have been  critical, and contemptuous of what Tinsel Town really stands and speaks for:  A military/industrial complex of which Hollywood- and the advertising industry- is simply the sugar coated P.R. mouthpiece. This cesspool of militarism, racism and consumerism controls individual consciousness,the cognitive processes of herd mentality,  and it it aggressively attempts to control and repackage through a depiction as comedy, and playful silly mischief, any  level  of superior thought, or sensitization that menaces its hegemony by providing eloquent recall of its inherent, evil and ultimately tragic flaws and  own absurd construction of a world devoid of reason….

"There is a similar darker view of human relationships. In the early paintings the relations between men and women are depicted in a light-hearted, almost frivolous manner. In the Caprices, things are presented in an altogether different light. There are scenes of rape and the selling of a maiden's virtue for money. In the picture called "What a Sacrifice!" (Que Sacrificio! - see the Gallery ), matrimony is seen not as a holy state but as a simple financial transaction." read more:

Charles IV’s wife, and queen, was the monstrous Maria Luisa of Parma, a dissolute and unsightly woman whose bed was occasionally shared by well muscled stable boys but whose official lover was an ambitious army officer, five years her junior, named Manuel de Godoy. He was well paid for his services: Charles relinquished not only his wife but virtual control of the government to Godoy, appointing him Prime Minister in 1792. Between them, combining stupidity with corruption, Maria Luisa and Godoy managed to involve Spain in a series of debacles that ultimately led to the Franco Spanish defeat at Trafalgar.

Goya. 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:

Goya observed these repellant creatures as individual beings rather than as the disastrous social and political powers that they were; his portraits of them so reveal their grotesqueness that it is hard to see how the subjects could have tolerated them. Blinded by vanity, these freaky aristocrats may have been flattered by Goya’s accurate reflection of the images they knew in the mirror. But if he 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 as his etchings “Los Caprichos” makes evident. They are fantastic visions of universal greed, vanity, superstition and cruelty: the Four Horsemen of Goya’s own apocalypse.

"The stunning dress, of a still Tiepolesque lightness, stands out against a timeless, unidentified background; but what really strikes us in this portrait is the totally unidealized face, and the closed, melancholy, uncomprehending expression which verges on idiocy. This is María Teresa de Vallabriga y Borbon, Countess of Chinchón, the daughter of Don Luis de Borbon and María Teresa de Vallabriga, and wife of Manuel Godoy, the favourite of Queen María Luisa." read more:

Kuspit: Any art that contradicts it by showing its contradictions — the unresolvable tensions that make it erratically tic(k) — must be contradicted: debunked as a distortion — erratic in itself — and with a worse, and more incurable, tic(k) than society’s. More particularly, any art that highlights capitalist society’s dirty underside of perpetual war, emotional terror and traumatic ugliness, and the desperate pursuit of pleasure that seeks relief from them — that dares to function as a social conscience, that places blame where blame must be conspicuously placed, that dares to tell truth to power, that accepts responsibility for its crimes against humanity when power will not accept them — must be prettified into inconsequence, treated as a kind of misplaced glamorization of society. Any art that fearlessly exposes its inherent barbarism — with an uncompromising, vehement realism more than equal to its own uncompromising, toxic charac

— is its enemy, and must be defeated by being re-made as a silly joke, a fatuous burlesque, a media caricature of itself, an artistic folly rather than an exposure of its own folly.Read More: a

A Procession of Flagellants (c. 1812-14) read more:

What a religion’s founders say and what its followers do is as different as what Karl Marx wrote in the London Library and what Stalin did with “Das Kapital” in Siberia. Ideals are nice. Upholding them is nicer. The world of Islam is overwhelmingly not living up to its purported ideals. It is a world of tyrannies, intolerance, racism, of prideful bigotries that shame any Muslim’s claim of having the prophet defiled when Jews and foreigners are the daily objects of defilement in many of these countries’ media and official government pronouncements. Are we forgetting that the Darfur genocide is primarily an Arab massacre of non-Arab, black Africans? Are we forgetting that Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel, broadcast to the entire Middle East a 41-part-series based on the revoltingly anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and did so during Ramadan, to maximize ratings? Don’t just blame it on non-democracies: Are we forgetting that the democratically elected representatives of Hamas, Iran and Iraq, both Sunni and Shiite, revel in destroy-Israel rants? Read More: a

Dix. Nude for Francisco Goya. 1926. Kuspit: For Dix gets to the roots of death, showing us how rooted in life it is -- showing us more grisly skulls than we care to see, stripping flesh to the bare bone. Goya stays on its bleak surface, rarely venturing and confronting its skeletal truth. Dix’s Nude (for Francisco Goya) (1926) makes the point succinctly: the beautiful refined body of Goya’s nude Maja has become ugly, vulgar, and beastly, as her claw-like right hand confirms. She is ready for sadistic action, her hairy crotch more crudely naked and claustrophobic -- hardly inviting -- than even Courbet imagined it in the Birth of the World. read more: image:

Illiberal regimes at least have an excuse. Regression is part of their gross national product. The West has no such excuse, least of all in the world’s self-appointed guardian of liberty. If l’infame’s 21 st century version is whatever replaces liberty, reason and the rule of law with dogma, faith-based bigotry and the lawless presumptions of a few arrogant men, then don’t let the relative calm over cartoongate in America fool you. L’infame is alive and well here, in small and broad ways: It is people holding up signs at gay funerals that say “No Fags in Heaven,” and millions of people doing likewise in 11 states by voting to bar gays from marrying. It is columnist Ann Coulter calling Muslims “ragheads” at a conservative political conference and getting an ovation, or Jacksonville’s Rev. Jerry Vines calling Muhammad a “demon-possessed pedophile” in an address to the Southern Baptist Conference, and getting alleluias. L’infame is the National Cathedral service on Sept. 14, 2001, belting the wrathful and jingoist “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during a memorial service for the victims of the attacks three days earlier.Read More: a

"After the World War I in Weimar rebublic in Germany, there is a tension to aeshetize sexual murders, especially after some such actual murders that shocked society. Many artists produced a noticeable large number of drawings, painting or photos with such disturbing gory thematology, either exploring their dark side of their unconscious desires, or with an attitude to provoke by giving a grotesque vision of the after war social crisis in Weimar." read more:

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