"The hell of Francisco Goya has no parallel in art."
May 4, 2015 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I have in my head a little box where I put Goya and Hogarth together, because there's something about their nightmarish misanthropies that I find so similar (and so very satisfying), but this line in the LRB review, I think, helps me understand why that box is so ill-fitting: The wordlessness of Goya’s pages – the way his images annihilate their scribbled captions, and never stop saying ‘De esto nada se sabe’ (‘Nothing is known of this’) – seems intrinsic to their effect.

That strikes me as a good point. To look at Hogarth is to get a detailed lecture from a progressive schoolmarm who is convinced the world would be better if it would just listen. Hogarth is full of words, or at least, full of fullness, interminable even if you love him, every minor detail a little lesson about what he hates and why it is ridiculous, unnatural and ill-advised. But Goya eschews all that. You look at a picture and you have it at a glance. Except then you realize you didn't have it, you weren't looking closely enough. A gesture, the tilt of a blind and gaping face, something keeps dragging you into it. You don't read Goya, he's not writing tracts, nothing is ever going to get better and the world is death and horror, and the picture drags at you with its friction, its gravity, its outstretched claw, reminding you that your hands too will be claws soon enough.

So maybe I have to take him out of that box.

These pictures are beautiful (in their way!), and I'm very happy to have seen this post!

(bonus fun fact: thankfully i see the nyrb piece was by jenny uglow, who wrote the great hogarth: a life and a world, so now i don't have to feel stupid for making the connection between the two!)
posted by mittens at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

I've always loved the prints-- the follies, the caprices, and dreams. So ahead of his time. You would think there were a few years (rather than several decades) between him and Odilon Redon. To me the Surrealists didn't have anything of Goya.
posted by cleroy at 6:32 PM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not the same exhibition, but Goya exhibition related (not the current Courtauld one, rather an exhibition of portraits at the National Gallery later this year).

A Radio 3 documentary from last month about putting a Goya exhibition together: Sunday Feature: Doing Goya Justice The Curators Story. The link is to the podcast version, though it should be available via the iPlayer as well.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:32 PM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

They are astonishing images, strange and evocative, done with a masterful combination of freedom and precision that somehow conveys with a few strokes a powerful sense of sinews and aged flesh.

Do not miss this one if you're in London.
posted by Segundus at 9:27 PM on May 4, 2015

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