Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MWA VIII: Goya's Caprichos

Better late than never, as they say. It may be October 31st, but it's not too late to do another Monthly Work of Art, and the etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (El sueño de la razón produce monstruos) from his series Los Caprichos, 1797-98, seems appropriate for today. I actually just paired this with Fuseli's Nightmare, 1781 (about which I once blogged), on my students' midterm exam as comparison images. Goya was a great Spanish artist who eventually became the official painter to the king, Carlos IV. But in this series of etchings he began to explore fables, morality, and superstitious tales, and produced some extraordinary images in the process. This work has been seen in art history as a statement on the transition from Neoclassicism to Romanticism. The "sleep" of the rational mind can produce monstrous visions. On one hand, this is a good thing, as it means the artist is free from restraints and can allow his imagination to run wild. On the other hand, this is a bad thing, because without restraint one can go a little crazy. Whatever the interpretation, it seems like a lovely, haunting image appropriate for today. Happy Halloween!

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