Πέμπτη, 24 Μαΐου 2012

"Los Caprichos" by Francisco Goya


Los Caprichos are a set of 80 aquatint prints created by the Spanish artist Francisco Jose de Goya in 1797 and 1798, and published as an album in 1799. The prints were an artistic experiment: a medium for Goya's condemnation of the universal follies and foolishness in the Spanish society in which he lived. The criticisms are far-ranging and acidic; he speaks against the predominance of superstition, the ignorance and inabilities of the various members of the ruling class, pedagogical short-comings, marital mistakes, and the decline of rationality. Some of the prints have anticlerical themes. Goya described the series as depicting "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual".


The work was an enlightened, tour-de-force critique of 18th-century Spain, and humanity in general. The informal style, as well as the depiction of contemporary society found in Caprichos, makes them – and Goya himself – a precursor to the modernist movement almost a century later. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters in particular has attained an iconic status.


Goya added brief explanations of each image to a manuscript now in the Prado; these help greatly to explain his often cryptic intentions, as do the titles printed below each image.


Goya's series, and the last group of prints in his series The Disasters of War, which he called "caprichos enfáticos" ("emphatic caprices") are far from the spirit of light-hearted fantasy the term caprice usually suggests in art. Visit Wikipedia to see all 80 prints


The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (El sueño de la razón produce monstruos') is the most famous plate of the series. Etched between 1797–1799, it is plate 43 of the 80 etchings and was initially intended to be the frontispiece. It consists of a self-portrait of the artist with his head on a table, as owls and bats surround him, assailing him as he buries his head into his arms. Seemingly poised to attack the artist are owls (symbols of folly) and bats (symbols of ignorance).The viewer might read this as a portrayal of what emerges when reason is suppressed and, therefore, as an espousal of Enlightenment ideals. However, it also can be interpreted as Goya's commitment to the creative process and the Romantic spirit—the unleashing of imagination, emotions, and even nightmares. Arguably the most famous plate of the series, it has gone on to become an iconic image, with its title often being quoted from Goya.

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