Goya the Artist

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February 24, 2010

Alberta Canada exhibit of "Double Bill" Goya's Disasters of War and Los Caprichos

The AGA (Art Gallery of Alberta, Canada) has a full exhibit presenting the Goya etchings sets of The Disasters of War (Los Desastres de la Guerra) and Los Caprichos via a computer terminal.

An interesting review of the exhibit is online at the Edmonton, Canada site vueweekly.com written by Adam Waldron-Blain:

"Goya's Disasters of War series is a powerful collection of images that leaves an overwhelming impression. The images, like modern photojournalism, are a collection of atrocities from the Spanish Peninsular War, and they wrap around the walls of the gallery in two rows. It takes a fair chunk of time to look through them all and to absorb the impact of their depressing content.

The exhibition at the AGA has taken pains to point out the political content of the works, and plenty of it is plainly visible even without extensive knowledge of early 19th century Spain. Most obvious is the emphasis on women, children and the elderly that not only makes clear the fact that atrocities are being depicted, but begins Goya's construction of a liberal heroic Spanish patriotism. The prints present a narrative about the common people of Spain resisting French soldiers in moments of great heroism and martyrdom. But the unreason of war, the relentless and apparently purposeless advance of the soldiers is impossible to stop, and the heroic citizens are inevitably dismembered and abandoned on the fields of war.

Disasters of War Goya Etching
[Above] Plate 15 from The Disasters of War (Spanish: "Los Desastres de la Guuerra") This plate is titled "Y no hai remedio" ("And there is no remedy")

Website: Art Gallery of Alberta

  • 2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
  • Edmonton, Alberta Canada T5J 2C1
  • Telephone: 780.422.6223


Goya The Terrible Sublime - Graphic Novel - (Spanish Edition) - Amazon

Goya: His Life & Works in 500 Images: An illustrated account of the artist, his life and context, with a gallery of 300 paintings and drawings – 256 pages, Lorenz Books, 2015 - Amazon

Goya Ephemera

"From this headlong seizure of life we should not expect a calm and refined art, nor a reflective one. Yet Goya was more than a Nietzschean egoist riding roughshod over the world to assert his supermanhood. He was receptive to all shades of feeling, and it was his extreme sensitivity as well as his muscular temerity that actuated his assaults on the outrageous society of Spain." From Thomas Craven's essay on Goya from MEN OF ART (1931).

"...Loneliness has its limits, for Goya was not a prophet but a painter. If he had not been a painter his attitude to life would have found expression only in preaching or suicide." From Andre Malroux's essay in SATURN: AN ESSAY ON GOYA (1957).

"Goya is always a great artist, often a frightening one...light and shade play upon atrocious horrors." From Charles Baudelaire's essay on Goya from CURIOSITES ESTRANGERS (1842).

"[An] extraordinary mingling of hatred and compassion, despair and sardonic humour, realism and fantasy." From the foreword by Aldous Huxley to THE COMPLETE ETCHINGS OF GOYA (1962).

"His analysis in paint, chalk and ink of mass disaster and human frailty pointed to someone obsessed with the chaos of existence..." From the book on Goya by Sarah Symmons (1998).

"I cannot forgive you for admiring Goya...I find nothing in the least pleasing about his paintings or his etchings..." From a letter to (spanish) Duchess Colonna from the French writer Prosper Merimee (1869).

Los Caprichos Goya - Amazon

GOYA : Los Caprichos - Dover Edition - Amazon

Goya Book - Robert Hughes - 2006

Goya A Life in Letters

Goya: A Life in Letters


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