Robert Hughes

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0394580281

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Robert Hughes, who has stunned us with comprehensive works on subjects as sweeping and complex as the history of Australia (The Fatal Shore), the modern art movement (The Shock of the New), the nature of American art (American Visions), and the nature of America itself as seen through its art (The Culture of Complaint), now turns his renowned critical eye to one of art history’s most compelling, enigmatic, and important figures, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. With characteristic critical fervor and sure-eyed insight, Hughes brings us the story of an artist whose life and work bridged the transition from the eighteenth-century reign of the old masters to the early days of the nineteenth-century moderns.

With his salient passion for the artist and the art, Hughes brings Goya vividly to life through dazzling analysis of a vast breadth of his work. Building upon the historical evidence that exists, Hughes tracks Goya’s development, as man and artist, without missing a beat, from the early works commissioned by the Church, through his long, productive, and tempestuous career at court, to the darkly sinister and cryptic work he did at the end of his life.
In a work that is at once interpretive biography and cultural epic, Hughes grounds Goya firmly in the context of his time, taking us on a wild romp through Spanish history; from the brutality and easy violence of street life to the fiery terrors of the Holy Inquisition to the grave realities of war, Hughes shows us in vibrant detail the cultural forces that shaped Goya’s work.

Underlying the exhaustive, critical analysis and the rich historical background is Hughes’s own intimately personal relationship to his subject. This is a book informed not only by lifelong love and study, but by his own recent experiences of mortality and death. As such this is a uniquely moving and human book; with the same relentless and fearless intelligence he has brought to every subject he has ever tackled, Hughes here transcends biography to bring us a rich and fiercely brave book about art and life, love and rage, impotence and death. This is one genius writing at full capacity about another—and the result is truly spectacular.

After Modernist Painting: The History of a Contemporary Practice (International Library of Modern and Contemporary Art, Volume 3)

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theory”—and he sees they fail in all their attempts.3 Espoz y Mina was among the most celebrated of the guerrilla leaders, but there were many others: a British report to Wellesley sent from Lisbon in 1811 listed more than one hundred bands, varying in size from a hundred to several thousand. Juan Martín, nicknamed El Empecinado (The Stubborn One), fought at Castilla la Nueva with a force of 3,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry. Operating from ambush or attacking under the cover of night, guerrilla

documentary, the Third of May has more of the character of a religious altarpiece—dedicated, however, to the religion of patriotism. That is to say, it uses devices from religious iconography to wring responses of pity and terror from those who look at it, and its success in doing this is so complete that it has lived on for almost two centuries as the undiminished and unrivaled archetype of images of suffering and brutality in war. A list of those who have imitated it (or been “inspired” by it)

and of Pepe Illo that they also introduced “harpoons or banderillas” into the arena to disorient the bull with pain and so wear it down, which we see happening in plate 7. Goya, La tauromaquia, plate 6, Los moros hacen otro capeo en plaza con su albornoz (“The Moors made another pass at the bull with their cape”), 1816. Etching and aquatint, 24.7 × 35.6 cm. (illustration credit 9.24) As bullfighting gradually lost the elitist and ceremonial character it had acquired in its conversion into a

not-too-remote association with blind Homer. They would be regular subjects for Spanish painters from Velázquez to Picasso, and Goya’s guitarist is one of the most obvious prototypes of the misérabliste figures from the latter’s Blue Period—except that, unlike Picasso, Goya was not at all sentimental in depicting his. The design is meant as an assembly of social types, high to low. At the lowest end are the blind man and his chubby-faced little assistant and guide, his lazarillo, and off to the

though just dragged from their beds, suggests that the fire is in a hospital or lazar house and that those being rescued are patients unable to walk or otherwise fend for themselves. This would fit well, again, with Goya’s own sense of helplessness in the face of his disease. Almost as unhappy, though less catastrophic in its tone, is the one picture that should, at least, look jolly and is the closest in subject to the tapestry designs Goya had fled from producing: The Strolling Players

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