Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Goya's Black Paintings

a month or so back, i took a class (actually a scholarly lecture) at the Figge on Francisco Goya's mysterious "black paintings." the session was titled Interpreting the Dark and Strange and it was led by Emily Alexander (M.A., U Mass). I felt she did a very nice job.

at the time of the talk, and since then, i've realized these "black paintings" have left an impression on me in terms of how they relate to some pieces i've made here and there throughout my life. i wanted to post some images from the body of work and give a very quick paraphrasing of the content of Emily's lecture...

when Goya was 74 years old, sick, and beginning to go mad (throw into that mix the fact that he was already mostly deaf), he began living in a villa outside of Madrid. as i understand it, the only other resident in the home was his servant and lover. soon after taking up residence, he started painting a variety of frescoes on the interior walls of his home. evidently, the manner in which he painted the pieces was both fierce in style and made in haste. the works fell to shit in a short amount of time because Goya failed to correctly apply paint onto wet plaster. after his death, a haphazard attempted to save them was made, but the process didn't go so well. I guess the pieces now exist via a stretched canvas system of some sort, and are in "so-so" shape.

but, back to the content of the work. these murals are insane. large, dark pieces depicting some very eerie scenes. quasi-satanic rituals with a shadowy goat figure. parades of people that look mentally ill. and of course, there's also the famous piece from this body of work - the scene of the god Saturn devouring his children. remember, these were everywhere on the walls of his house. wow.

i'm having a tough time figuring out my favorite work out of the lot. for now, i'll go with Pilgrimage to San Asidro. (as always, click on images for a larger view)

here's The Great He-Goat: Witches Sabbath

Saturn Devouring His Children


and one more, Two Old Men

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