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ZOOM: Goya: The Birth of a Modern Artist   

**This class will be taught on Zoom**

**Please note that the due to a scheduling issue, the first class will be a RECORDING only and will be sent to all enrolled students. The remaining classes will be on Zoom, 3:00 – 5:00, April 19, 26 & May 3, 10, and 17**

**April 12th there is no class**

Goya’s early work showed the influence of the Enlightenment, but later the impact of illness, war, and political repression showed in his paintings through enigmatic imagery that upended the traditional role of an artist. For Goya, art was not a way to interpret the world according to an immutable order dictated by God, but an urgent reflection on the lack of meaning in modern society.

From the royal tapestries and portraits, to the incisive Caprichos, the impactful Disasters of the War and the desperate Black Paintings, we will examine Goya's major works and his stunning evolution.


Week by Week Outline


Week 1

1) Historical and biographical context: A period of progressive political and societal policies in Spain during the enlightened monarchy of Carlos III, ended abruptly with his successors. The Napoleonic invasion and civil war that ensued created turmoil. The restoration of the longed-for Spanish monarch Fernando VII squashed all hope of progress, when he became a tyrant who ruled Spain through fear and repression. 

Goya, cunning in all financial matters, was able to stay as painter of the court through this upheaval, but his art reflected the surrounding chaos. 

2) Tapestry cartoons: Goya spent his first years as Court Painter painting the tapestry cartoons that would decorate the walls of royal residences. We will analyze at least 5 cartoons to show how Goya transformed these conventional pieces with a modern point of view about society and art.


Week 2 

1) Portraits: Goya was a superb portraitist but often infused his work with a critical or conceptual point of view that changed the genre of portraiture. We will review several of his most famous portraits, including the Family of Charles IV (showing how Goya used Velazquez as inspiration while reversing the treatment of the monarchs and the artist); portraits of some of the intellectual and aristocratic elite of the Enlightenment period, such as Jovellanos and la Duquesa de Alba; and the famous Naked Maja.

2) Frescoes of San Antonio de la Florida: One of Goya's major religious commissions, it transforms the classical ceiling frescos of a church, with its triumphant angelic and saintly figures, into a down-to-earth scene that could have happened in Main street.


Week 3

1) Witches, masses, madmen and colossus: Some themes became an obsession for Goya, who treated them in different ways throughout his life. We will analyze paintings like The Witches Sabbath, The Burial of the Sardine, The Madhouse, and The Colossus.


Week 4

Caprichos: We will review the collection of prints that Goya published after the grave illness that left him deaf. We will start with the public announcement that he wrote about this work, and then analyze the many facets of the collection:

  • Social critique based on topics dear to the Enlightenment.

  • The appearance of monsters and nightmarish creatures and what they mean.

  • Technical and conceptual innovations.

  • The interaction between words and paint (titles and captions).

Week 5 

1) Disasters of the War: Goya created this collection of etchings reflecting the war, famine and desperation that gripped Spain during the Napoleonic invasion. With a stark and objective point of view, which reminds more of the XXth century war photographers than of any previous or contemporary artist, Goya faces the viewer with the unfiltered reality of fear, cruelty and pain. Goya did not publish these prints during his lifetime: expression had become an inescapable duty without any further goals.

2) The 2nd of Mayo and The 3rd of May: Considered by some as Goya's most modern and iconic work, the Executions of Madrileños on the 3rd of May subverts religious imagery and the canon of war painting to transform the viewer into a direct witness of humanity's terror and lack of direction. 


Week 6

1) Black Paintings: These works painted on the wall of his countryside home are among the most enigmatic work that Goya left us. Recognizable background and facts disappear leaving a world of unfettered chaos that shows the loss of meaning in mankind. We will also review his moving self-portrait with Dr. Arrieta, of the same period, where we see how a caring friend can push aside the illness that threatened his life and the darkness that had invaded his soul.

2) Latest work: After he self-exiled in France, Goya seemed to find a measure of inner peace that allowed him to escape the world of the Black Paintings. We will look at some of the work he produced in the last nine years of his life and show the coexistence of old and new themes.


This class is not available at this time.  

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