Francisco Goya. Self-Portrait in the Studio. ca. 1790. Madrid.
Art Hysteria is a new blog hosted by Art Multiple.
Art Hysteria - AH for short - is about modern art, and about Goya.
Art Hysteria is mainly - though by no means exclusively - about modern art and modern art history. (Generally that means art made roughly between 1800 and today.)
But that's a pretty wide swath - more precisely, AH is about looking afresh and in unusual places. We'll take a look at obscure works by great artists, and great works by obscure artists.
AH is about a lot of things modern art-related. But it is above all about the Spanish artist Francisco Goya.
Why Goya? Because there is so much to see and say about Goya (30 March 1746 – 16 April 1828), arguably, the progenitor of modern art, and of our own current aesthetic sensibilities.
AH will often be about artists influenced by Goya, and how Goya, nearly 200 years after his death, is very much still with us.
Goya is pretty much inexhaustible, I'd say, and somewhat like the universe; ubiquitous, even ever-expanding. So, let's explore the universe that is Goya!
AH will have a feature called Your Daily Goya. Unless another topic intrudes that day, AH will be your go-to place for a daily serving of pure Goya goodness.
AH will be about a lot of other art hysteria - er, history - too. But it will be mainly about Goya. I hope you enjoy the inaugural posts of Art Hysteria - they're about Goya.
Your Daily Goya
1.1.2017 / Goya: Portrait of Himself / Portrait of his Time
Slide comparison: Let's look at Goya as long-haired young rock star, Image 1 above, and Goya as an old pensioner in provincial France, image 2.
Img 1 is Goya's earliest known self-portrait, painted 1775. He paints this shortly after his arrival in Madrid from Italy,having been summoned to his homeland to work as a cartoonist at the Royal Tapestry Factory.
Goya is 29, and in thrall of a rapidly ascendant and (relatively) naturalistic neo-classicism - championed by his principal teacher, Anton Rafael Mengs.
Freshly back from a formative trip to Italy, and, eager to make his mark, he turns out this portrait: modeled after a Mengs self-portrait; in classic 3/4 pose; and in the consciously self-regarding mode of artistic self-representation that had held sway since at least the days of Raphael and Durer.
But - in the relatively naturalistic stlyle of the fledgling neoclassicism.
This is Goya proclaiming not only his virtuoso skills but also his fluency with the new esthetic ideas of the time; albeit ideas well within the lines of centuries-old pictorial traditions (there's a lot of Rembrandt in this picture).
Image 2 - is a self-portrait, mid-1820's, by a 70-something Goya, now living in Bordeaux, where he is in political self-exile.
Here Goya sees himself - and frames himself - with a nearly photo-snapshot-like casualness. This is the mid-1820's, mind you. He renders a self-likeness with a linear economy that Matisse might admire.
Goya draws himself wearing a "casquette a pont" - a brimmed cap - that was starting to be worn in France in the early 19th c by well-to-do farmers and subsequently by the provincial urban gentry.
To us, it may look like laborer/workingman's cap, but that's because this type of hat was generally adopted by workingmen later in the century, and down to this day. It's Goya effectively pioneering what would become a proletarian sartorial style that would go on to enchant the Impressionists, and the Russian Constructivists, and that speaks to us even now.
This is a Goya that, if he suddenly materialized at an opening on Orchard Street, you migh think, "Cool old artist dude, props to pops; great cap."
But Goya didn't just have cutting-edge taste in headwear; he also set the table for Modernism.
Manet - Manet goes to Madrid in 1865 and sees Goya paintings for the first time (but he was certainly aware of his work before then through reproductions).
Goya hands Manet a bunch of things, among them: that scumbling modernist brushwork, bringing the support/surface literally into the picture; and that quintessential modernist "rapt vacancy" - artist Alan Gouk's felicitous phrase - that you can discern in the faces of Manet's sitters (and Picasso's, and Matisse's, and Alice Neel's, and Freud's and Bacon's, and Peyton's, et al.).
That pervasive sense, in modern figuration and portraiture, of an instant present, embodied and fixed, (cf Bergson's idea of "duree"): that is from Goya.
Much of Manet's greatness, in fact, much of his radical pictorial modernity, is how brilliantly. how wondrously, he channels his great forebears, but most of all Goya; how Manet's work gratifies our own individual appreciation and our collective memory of Goya's work.
Goya, Blind Man's Buff, 1788. Prado
Goya, Blind Man's Buff (detail).
Your Daily Goya
1.1.2017 / Manet Goes to Madrid
Manet did not travel to Madrid in 1865 to check out the restaurant scene; he went to look at Velazquez and Goya. He went to do precisely what we are about to do now: to look at Goya from a distance that most people would find a bit too close.
Manet undertook his 1865 trip – one is tempted to call it a pilgrimage – to Madrid (basically to the Prado) - to study technique, up close and personal. What he saw- what he absorbed with rapt attention – and what he subsequently transmitted through his own work – the indefinite space of Velazquez; Goya's free, deft, bravura brushwork - became the technical Rosetta stone for modern western painting. Down to this day, in fact; when any canvas displaying any ambiguity/de-differentiation/melding, etc. - between image, support, and painterly touch - owes a debt, witting or not, to Goya.
In our parlance, Manet discovered a Goya that was “meta” pretty much from the get-go. Let's go to the videotape: this is Blind Man's Buff, 1788, oil on canvas, some ten feet across; in the Prado. Aristocratic youths dressed as majas and majos dance and play in the countryside. Done for the Royal Tapestry works, with whom Goya has an association for some twenty years. This particular cartoon was restored about ten years ago, at the Prado, revealing Goya's technique in all its brilliance.
Mind you, this is basically a preparatory work, a template; no one but the tapestry makers would have seen it, and once used, it would have been tucked away in some closet. Goya, supremely conscious of his own talent and his technical inventiveness, couldn't care less; he's doing his thing and he's showing his stuff, whatever the circumstances. Check out the detail – how free the brushwork is on the sleeve of one of the dancers; how he lets the red under-painting show through, to create the impression of shadow; among the many technical innovations and virtuoso moves that Manet discovers and makes his own on his fateful trip.