Feb 192003
Authors: Elizabeth King

Deaf at 46, artist Francisco Goya moved to France from Spain and began his “black paintings.”

Goya lived through the Napoleonic Wars, the chaos that followed and the Inquisition. He was born in the Spanish province of Aragon in 1746 and became the court painter for Charles III and IV in Spain, where he was witness to the decadence of court life.

Later in life he barely survived a life-threatening disease and afterward the artist completed his last compassionate painting about the doctor who saved him. This was followed by a retreat into the villa where he began “the black paintings” which include “Saturn Devouring His Son” and “The Pilgrims of San Isidro.”

Unable to present his works to his old clientele because of their graphic nature, Goya was forced under the threat of the Inquisition to withdraw his pieces. He would later die in France and his paintings would eventually be taken down, transposed to canvas and donated to the Spanish government.

Francisco Goya was deeply affected by the politics surrounding him. As time went by his view of the human condition deteriorated. The artist was influenced in his series of paintings “Disaster of War,” by the pointless butchery, which victors inflict on the vanquished.

Goya is considered by many to be “the Father of Modern Art.” Because of his expression of feeling and thoughts, his works paved the way for many movements to come. His works span 60 years covering the last half of the 18th century to the first quarter of the 19th century.

As an artist Goya was exceptionally talented and versatile. He continued to experiment and master new media until he was quite old.

Perhaps more than any other artist, mouths play a huge role in Goya’s art. They almost become the sole aspect that depicts emotion in his work. Mouths in his paintings leer, grin, gape, gasp, moan, shriek and belch.

Ultimately it is Goya’s humanity that allows the viewer to glimpse at his personal turmoil in a world of violence.

To grasp the extent of Goya’s disillusionment with society, is to understand that the artist painted a giant devouring his own son in the dining room of his villa. Time, which the giant represents, devours all of its creations and Goya chose to eat his last meals with this image on the walls.

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