Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Let's Yak About Art-- Francisco Goya

There aren't many artists that are as compelling as Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746-1828). Although he started his career painting buildings and working in the Royal Tapestry Workshop, as he aged Goya didn't back away from the ugliness of truth and the darkness of fear. His work runs the gamut--portraits and frescoes, political drawings and prints, cartoons; from delicate, playful Rococo style paintings (Sleep) to squeamish, frightening scenes.

His portraits were often comissioned by Spanish royalty. His years with royalty patrons left a bad taste in his mouth. He created a series of aquatint prints dubbed Los Caprichos, which examined those parts of society we tend to ignore or dismiss. Goya described these works as "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual." The production of this set of prints almost landed his hind end in front of the Spanish Inquisition. Out Hunting for Teeth and You, Who Cannot Do It are two prints from the Los Capricho series.

The painting that did land Goya in front of the Spanish Inquisition was The Nude Maja. He was commanded to report who comissioned the painting; if he did reveal who did, the information wasn't ever made public. Goya did paint another depiction of the same woman, dubbed The Clothed Maja, because of pressure from Spanish society. He refused to paint clothing directly over The Nude Maja. According to the Wikipedia article on The Nude Maja, it's supposedly the first painting in Western art to include pubic hair. In 1930, two sets of stamps of The Nude Maja were produced in Spain, but the US barred the risque stamps and sent back all mail with the offending images.

Another set of aquatint prints produced by Goya were the Disasters of War. They are scenes from the Peninsular War, fought by the Spanish, Portuguese and British against Napoleon France. Que Valor! and It Cannot Be Changed are two of the prints from the series. Another work he produced, along the same theme, is The Third of May 1808.

Toward the end of his life, Goya painted 14 works onto his dining room and sitting room walls. They're called the Black Paintings. These paintings weren't ever meant to leave his home, and were untitled. They were eventually transferred to canvas to preserve them and titled by art historians. Atropos or Fate and Fighting with Clubs are two of the Black Paintings.


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