Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cats in Art: Caprichos Plate 60: Experiments (de Goya y Lucientes)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi. 

Image credit francisodegoya website, Caprichos Plate 60: Experiments, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, aquatint and etching; size and holder not specified.

I covered a famous image by Francisco de Goya Lucientes for Cats in Art last week, here, which was a traditional oil painting of the time.  For this week I tried scrolling through one of the sites that purport to contain his complete works, looking, of course, for cats.  Part of the way through I came across this unusual pen and ink drawing, or etching, that is part of a larger series of such etchings that de Goya y Lucientes called Los Caprichos.

This strange etching could not be any more different from last week's oil painting.  You have a naked woman who seems to be enjoying herself as she apparently inflicts pain upon some unfortunate guy, a huge demonic goat, a skull, and a couple small animals in the of which is a demonic-looking kitty right there in the front left foreground.  

The cat--despite its small size--looks like it's the hired muscle keeping guard over the proceedings behind.

Seems that there's a story about the Los Caprichos series of etchings:

Los Caprichos are a set of 80 prints in aquatint and etching created by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya in 1797 and 1798, and published as an album in 1799. The prints were an artistic experiment: a medium for Goya's condemnation of the universal follies and foolishness in the Spanish society in which he lived. 
The criticisms are far-ranging and acidic; he speaks against the predominance of superstition, the ignorance and inabilities of the various members of the ruling class, pedagogical short-comings, marital mistakes and the decline of rationality. Some of the prints have anticlerical themes. Goya described the series as depicting "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual".
The work was an enlightened, tour-de-force critique of 18th-century Spain, and humanity in general. The informal style, as well as the depiction of contemporary society found in Caprichos, makes them (and Goya himself) a precursor to the modernist movement almost a century later. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters in particular has attained an iconic status. 
[Gary's Note: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters will be right here in this very space next Sunday...betcha can't wait!]

The other thing that's cool about de Goya y Lucientes' works as I scrolled through them was his imaginative titles, such as The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.  The paintings I typically feature here in Cats and Art, and in the art world in general, have always, to me, had very measured and conservative titles.

Next week I'll include a list of some more of his zinger titles, along with links to the works so you can see the subject matter.  Here's just one example (unfortunately, sans kitties): Here Comes the Bogey-Man.  I just gotta like the bizarre way this guy thought.

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