Curator Mark McDonald highlights some key pieces in this somewhat bleak but fascinating exhibition.
The Met’s new exhibition exploring the world of Goya’s art through his work on paper offers a deeply psychological look at the types of subject that he would concentrate his attention on – even if the true meaning through some of his work remains illusive.
Guided by curator Mark McDonald, this online tour of the exhibition captures many of the details that makes the Spanish artist’s work so fascinating to look at – particularly when it comes to the extraordinary amount of pieces of art that weren’t commissioned, but allowed Goya to express his thoughts and opinions.
With pieces such as his etching of A False Bacchus Crowning Drunkards (1778), Goya transforms Velázquez’s into something something different, something more contemporary in his attempt to really understand the original painting. It is one of the more fascinating works to look at because, it reveals just how closely he pays to detail, enhancing expressions and other elements that you perhaps would have missed in the original painting. He really goes deep into the subject.
However, there is no denying that most of the etchings and drawings on display are pretty bleak and dark in the way in which Goya captures the changes in society through his work. In particular, one print depicting the panic at a bullfight which actually took place in Madrid on 15 June 1801in which the mayor was impaled on a bull’s horns is particularly vivid and horrific to see. It is a work that shocks but also powerfully conveys the emotions of all those fleeing the scene.
This darkness that can be found in a lot of his work can make this exhibition feel very sombre, but with McDonald’s commentary it does feel as though you get a better understanding of Goya and why he created the work that he did. You get a deeper appreciation of just how intelligent his work is in the way which he would use shading to highlight certain parts of a scene to draw the viewer’s attention effectively – such as people’s emotions and pain. His fascination with discovering what makes us human is a consistent thread that runs throughout this exhibition.
Yet it is also clear there is a great intensity to all of the works that have been selected for display. Pieces such as a self-portrait and The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters are two works that really highlight this in different ways. While the self-portrait is an intense examination of himself that strikes the viewer with great force, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters pierces the viewer with all the eyes looking with great force at the viewer that is really haunting.
Bleak, but intelligently put together Goya’s Graphic Imagination is fascinating and detailed display of the artist’s work captured simply in this online tour.
By Emma Clarendon
To find out more about the exhibition visit: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2020/goyas-graphic-imagination.To view the online exhibition click here.