Stranger Days #40: Getting Dark With Goya

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Ok, so yesterday, I kept things a bit light but under The Mysteries of the Motel book, I found myself looking at Goya.  I first came across Francisco De Goya when visiting an exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art. At least, that's where I think I first encountered his work.  In particular, his etchings and not his paintings. His paintings are interesting but I've always found his sketches to be powerful and provocative for art from the 1700s and early 1800s.  I also was pretty deep into comics at the time (ok, I still am) and appreciated that it was line work rather than painting.  

Goya's etchings are often satirical and mocking of the European world in which he lived.  Yet, his satire is dark and haunting--they sit with the viewer long after one has witnessed them and they beg to be reviewed time and again.  So, I decided to take out the Goya book and take a darker walk down memory lane.  

I don't have commentary for most of them. But I always liked this one; probably one of Goya's most famous works--definitely among his sketches: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.  You can find out more about the meaning and context for this work from Khan Academy. The work itself showed up a lot when I was doing research on monsters when I taught a course on monsters and it had fit well in many ways with talking about both Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

But these other works, I also decided to include to capture what is so powerful about Goya's etchings. They offer such morbid and grotesque visuals that are both alienating and visceral to the viewer, especially knowing they're over 200 years old. Like, it's one thing to find out these were the works by some alternative comics artist in the 1970s. Intriguing but also seemingly right for the time.  But they seem something else altogether when seen as the work of a Spanish painter in the 1700s.

So why share these images and what does this have to do with the pandemic?  I don't know that I have a straight line of thought here beyond revisiting this book is one of the things that I did while homebound.  And the more that I looked at the imagery, the more I felt like there was something here within Goya's work that resonates with much of what is going on in the world right now.  The criticism and villainy evident in his work feels present in the world in the ways that some leadership and elites have continued to exasperate or even profit from the current crisis and will inevitably do so even more in the economic depression that is already starting.  Thus, I leave you with some imagery to ponder today. 
Goya's etching: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Goya's etching: A caza de dientes

Goya's etching: Al cementerio

Goya's etching of a bull on stairs having trampled a bunch of people.

Goya's etching: Linda maestra

Goya's etching: Las resultas

Goya's etching: Lo mismo

Goya's etching: Los chincillas

Goya's etching: Se repulen

Goya's etching: Sopla

Goya's etching: Todos Caeran

Take care. Be careful. Be care-filled.  Welcome to stranger days.

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