Demons according to Goya

“May the people, recognizing itself in its misery, learn to blush at its cowardice and to hate its tyrants; may the aristocracy, exposed in its fat and obscene nakedness, receive, on each of its muscles the flagellation of its parasitism, its insolence, and its corruption.”

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

          Though the nineteenth century French philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon directed his commentary favoring the works of the French painter Gustave Courbet and his praise of realistic subject matters and the moralizing role it played on its observers, this dismissal of neoclassical tradition which sought to engage in its didactic duties through mythological or literary subjects, making the message rather distant and vague to the audience, in exchange of facing the viewers with the crudest and grimmest reality of themselves can be attributed to no one more than the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. Goya’s works succeed in bridging two traditions that seemingly appear to be on opposite sides of the artistic spectrum, this is done by having the praise for reason characteristic of Neoclassicism come to life through nightmare-like and fantastic subject matters. As a result, Goya succeeds in providing us a dystopian outlook of what happens when we fail to tame our monstrous inner demons through rationality.

During 1799, Goya’s respected position as First Court Painter led Goya to feel confident in venturing in printmaking, the production of the prints were both financed and marketed by him. His first series of Prints Los Caprichos was advertised in the main Newspaper of Madrid, El Diario de Madrid, where he described the prints as a series of scenes, errors and vices of every civil society which seemed the most appropriate to be ridiculed. This ridicule of the errors in the Spanish society or satirical social criticism was not new to the Spanish people, for British prints were already distributed throughout Europe. They were introduced in Britain artists William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson and James Gillray; Goya simply adopted the ideas and motifs to those encountered in every day Spanish life. Though the Prints didn’t generate a generous income, it was more about Goya establishing his independence and his own voice and style as an artist.

Goya’s prints utilized a technique known as Etching, which next to engraving it is the most commonly used method employed in print making. Professional printmakers usually practiced engraving, but etching on the other hand was the method that caught the attention of many well-known artists aside from Goya, including some Tiepolo and Piranesi during the seventeenth century. Throughout the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, etching techniques became for sophisticated with the invention of the aquatint. In this process, soluble granules are mixed in the ground in a way that the acid is able to create a finely pitted surface; this technique was mastered by Goya and hence employed in the production of his prints.

The series Los Caprichos consists in a group of around 80 prints depicting the social decay of Spanish society. The first 40 prints of the series seek to provide a straightforward representation of what Goya believes are the illnesses Spanish Society encounters. The second group of the prints makes use of nightmare scenery and subject matter as an alternative way of showing the social decay Goya strives to emphasize in his prints. Understanding the socio historical context of Goya and his motives in the production of his print series Los Caprichos, paves way to further discuss the artwork featured above:

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes’ print No.66 “Allá va eso” (there it goes) from the series Los Caprichos first published in 1799, temporarily exhibited at Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts a gift by William and Dorothy Walmsley; was witnessed first handed on November 15, 2015. When analyzing the subject matter of the print it is important to remember that print No. 66 belongs to the second group of prints within the series that utilize dark creatures such as witches, goblins, demons, and bats for the purpose of Goya’s satirical criticism. To further understand the subject matter its important to compare the print to a similar one that can expand or clarify the creative process of the artist. This work brings to mind Goya’s print from Los Caprichos No. 68 “Linda Maestra!” (A fine teacher) in which one views a witch teaching a young lady how to fly on a broomstick, bringing to the viewer’s attention to Goya’s commentary on bad examples. Almost suggesting that following the teachings and lessons of the old, ugly witch will evidently lead the young lady to a similar path. The same can be said of the Print No. 66 “Allá va eso” where just like in “Linda Maestra!” we evidence an old witch teaching a young girl how to fly on a broomstick. There is a main difference between both prints can only be explained by analyzing the composition. Goya unlike in print no. 68, does not show the figures separately in fact, he places them in such a way that one appears to be part or an extension of the other; also the young lady has her eyes shut into the action, it is only the old witch the one aware of the environment.

Based on this it can be argued that while the old witch is a bad example it is up to the blind judgment of the young girl to follow her example, and when viewing the bat wings that stem from the young lady’s back, in a way they emphasize the idea that it is indeed the young girl listening and acting upon the bad example of the old witch was truly enables them to have the wings to fly. When relating the title to the main action of the print it is important to think that Goya does not refer to them as individuals or even separate beings, but rather as one conjoined, deformed monstrous thing seen from a far, and that might perhaps be best to see it from a distance – “There it goes”. Goya manages to place the town in the background suggesting the women are flying in the outskirts of the city. Their monstrosity leads them to be casted outside of civil society. The figures are placed directly in the mid-section of the picture plane to emphasize its importance and message. High contrasts and great detailing in the bodies add to the grotesque and unpleasant display of their bodies.

When thinking of modern Spanish art it is impossible not to bring Goya’s works into mind, even though he was not the only recognized painter at the time. Nevertheless, Goya managed to cast under the high contrast shadows of his paintings, most of his contemporaries. Goya’s works continue to serve as poignant reminders of human nature and in his works we can evidence the tragic ending of a man born in a world that praised reason, and to die in a world of decay, irrationality and chaos, leaving behind nothing but the cruelest most grim portrayal of the reality of the depravity our human nature is capable of in his artworks. As the 19th century philosopher, Pierre-joseph Proudhon would have mentioned and agreed: Let us recognize ourselves in our misery and learn to blush at our cowardice.

WRATH | Female Misandry.

“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”

– John Steinbeck.

        It seems as though it was a whole lifetime ago, that there was a time when I was madly in love with my Barbie Dolls. I remember a time when I couldn’t wait until christmas morning so I could open my eyes, rush through the stairs, and unwrap as many presents as fast as I could, all while being surrounded by the people I love the most: My Family. My infatuation with barbie and her pink utopia diminished several divorces later. I began to despise Barbie, her perfect life and even, every girl that reminded me of Barbie. For unknowingly, as a child I had associated and compared my own happiness, and life to that of Barbie’s ideal and perfect world. In my young and naïve eyes, looking physically different from Barbie was an immediate “No-Entry” into Mattel’s pink Garden of Eden. As we all mature, gain self-confidence and acceptant of human differences, Barbie, ken and her pink castle, were forever stored in the attic of my past, rotting along with floppy disks and other obsolete objects. Only to haunt us all again.

     The Barbie Phenomenon has caused across the globe the societal impact of empowering and motivating women into pursuing whichever field or profession women dreamt of. It seemed as though Mattel had eradicated the 19th Century’s misogynistic idea of “Femme Fatale”, with Barbie. The question is: “At what cost?” During the 20th Century,  a difficult time period marked by constant wars, and the psychological trauma men endured after witnessing the horrors of the war, women had to become resilient and strong, like the soldiers in battlefields, by working and holding entire households on their shoulders, as we see in J. Howard Miller’s famous poster “We Can Do It!” (1943) Barbie without a doubt, succeeds in embodying the working women of the 20th century.

        Now, in the 21st century, a new question emerges: Has barbie evolved with  the needs of our time? Is Barbie still modern? Is Barbie still “Avant-Garde”? I argue that in a way Barbie, the owner of the Volkswagen, the pets, and everything around her; sold to young girls the idea that men (Ken) could also come as a promotion once you saved enough lunch money to buy “Barbie’s Mansion”-  batteries not included, condoms sold separately – the invisible tag 21st century bachelorettes see stamped on men’s foreheads: Men, viewed as real life Kens, or most commonly called: “Boy toys.” The artist Dina Goldstein, shows in her In the Dollhouse Series, The perfect relationship of Barbie and Ken being brought down as Ken begins to reject the role Barbie has set for him: The role of being “Her Bitch”. It seems as though, the longer women linger unto the, what I like to call the “Barbie utopia”, the more women inadvertently begin to simulate being real life barbie dolls, and viewing their partners as male dress up dolls and or “trophy husbands.”I would argue that in today’s world, a large majority of girls can be found guilty of emasculating men, through their misguided fight for equality in feminism. In other words, feminism’s problem in 21st century should be targeted towards preventing women from psychologically castrating men.

        Philandry, the opposite of misandry (the hatred for men) is defined as: “the fraternal love and admiration for men”. It was during college, that I noticed how on our weekly wine down sunday nights my best friends and I would find ourselves starting a conversation revolving around the thought of “Ugh, I hate men, they are so stupid”, we would tell stories and have a good laugh but slowly, as the evening progressed, those initial thoughts suddenly transform themselves into “Man, sometimes I stop and wonder why God didn’t make me a man?” Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand, speaks on Feminity’s essence being “Hero worship”, an intense type of admiration which can only be experienced by a woman of strong character and independent value-judgments.

“…And the anger began to Ferment.”

-John Steinbeck. Grapes of wrath.

Only a “clinging vine” type of woman would consider admiration towards a hard working man a synonym of inferiority, of dependence, and obedience; this will lead to her becoming not a love or admirer, but rather the opposite: A misandrist, an exploiter of men. The feminist movement would be advised to practice mindfulness when defending women against misogyny, for a new problem may emerge, women taking justice by their own hand, (As we see represented in the Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi “Judith Decapitant Holopherne” 1614-1620) led by anger and incurring into one of the three deadliest sins: Wrath.