Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tonal Disturbance

All Will Fall. (Caprichos, no. 19 Todos caerán.)

There They Go Plucked. (Caprichos, no. 20 Ya van desplumados.)

Nothing Could Be Done about It. (Caprichos, no. 24 - Nohubo remedio)

Might Not the Pupil Know More (Caprichos, no. 37 Si sabrá mas el discipulo)

And So Was His Grandfather. (Caprichos, no. 39 Asta su abuelo.)

Thou Who Canst Not. (Caprichos, no. 42 Tu que no puedes.)

Tale Bearers - Blasts of Wind. (Caprichos, no. 48 Soplones.)

Hobgoblins. (Caprichos, no. 49 Duendecitos.)

The Chinchillas. (Caprichos, no. 50 Los chinchillas.)

They Spruce Themselves Up. (Caprichos, no. 51 Se repulen.)

What a Tailor Can Do! (Caprichos, no. 52 Lo que puede un sastre!)

What a Golden Beak! (Caprichos, no. 53 Que pico de oro!)

To Rise and to Fall. (Caprichos, no. 56 Subir y bajar.)

Look How Solemn They Are! (Caprichos, no. 63 Miren que grabes!)

Where Is Mother Going (Caprichos, no. 65 Donde vá Mamá)

There It Goes. (Caprichos, no. 66 Allá vá eso.)

Pretty Teacher! (Caprichos, no. 68 Linda maestra!)

You Will Not Escape. (Caprichos, no. 72 No te escaparas.)

In 1799 Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) published a series of 80 prints called 'Los Caprichos'. In his masterly hands the aquatint etching technique cloaks the line art with subtle and varying tonal effects. This afforded Goya the opportunity, as biographer Robert Hughes says, to

"exalt the scribble, the puddle, the blot, the smear, the suggestive beauty of the unfinished--and, above all, the primal struggle of light and dark, that flux from which all consciousness of shape is born."
Like the artist himself, 'Los Caprichos' are complex and open to a range of interpretations. Goya suffered from what seems to have been a disabling bout of meningitis in 1792 which left him stone deaf for the remainder of his life. The illness and resulting alienation and depression provided him with a unique insight into a nightmare world of torment that he so ably transfers to his prints.

Goya lived in a time of social upheaval with the French Revolution, the religious excesses of the Inquisition and the progressive thinking of the Enlightenment manifesting as significant influences. He attacks all manner of human superstition, prejudice, hypocrisy and stupidity in his etchings, whilst subtly mocking the church and state for keeping the people in misery and ignorance.

To avoid alienating his benefactors at Court and to protect himself from the wrath of the Inquisition, Goya masks his satire with the inclusion of demonic and perverse fantasy figures that defy a single understanding. This code of symbolism in the series has provided scholars with a rich vein to mine and has been referred to by some as visual language.


Bibi said...

I always love those Goya's works. :) They are even better when you see them very near, as I saw them at the Bienal of Art here.

You didn't put my favourite: El sueño de la razon

Jesús S. said...

Goya's "caprichos" are truly fascinating. Bibi's favourite, "El sueño de la razón produce monstruos", is probably the best known in Spain. That phrase, which can be translated as "The sleep of reason produces monsters", is commonly used nowadays as an erudite quotation.

peacay said...

I think that print is the best known everywhere, not just Spain and it's partly why I left it out. This is just my picks for the day. Goya is an artist to whom you can return over and over productively.

Aeron said...

A great series indeed. I was lucky enough to find a book collecting this series in a used bookstore for under 10 dollars many years ago. I'm a great fan of the way he reinterprets the customers of prostitution as the odd looking birds. Very disturbing animals.

sophiealiceanderson said...

What is the meaning behind "ya van desplumados?"
I know it has something to do with prostitutes plucking their male victims and throwing them out. But what message was Goya trying to construe in this etching?

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