Saturday, August 31, 2019

History According to Goya Essay

There are perhaps few artists who can be held in the same regard as Francisco Goya of Spain, who is known both for his exemplary work and as a symbol of the old and the new, bridging the gap between the classics and modern art. But what ultimately makes Goya memorable and outstanding is his ideology of putting social reality onto canvas, which he did by infusing a great amount of interpretation born out of an acute awareness with the skills that had made him an icon in art and culture. Film director Milos Forman, known for his period movies, directed Goya’s Ghosts, which was released in 2006 and features Goya in his element as an artist, social commentator and chronicler of history. While the storyline is fictional, the historical background of the film, as well as the inclusion of known personalities, is authentic and accurate. More importantly, the portrayal of Goya and his relationship with his art and subjects give the audience much insight into the mission and creative philosophy of the artist, specifically during the Spanish Inquisition that marked nineteenth century Spain. Overall, though the film had not enjoyed significant commercial or critical success, it still showed the individuality of Goya that is evident in his most celebrated paintings in the context of the oppression and chaos of history. II. Connecting Art with History Many critics found Goya’s Ghosts sufficient in narrating history, albeit incoherent and distracted at certain points, but wanting in showcasing Goya and his works. In the film’s theme of power and hypocrisy, some saw Goya’s role as merely a connection between those in power and those abused by the former. True as this may be, it still creates a statement regarding the artist’s purpose and how he viewed his actual work; since the period was defined by a perceivable existence of extremes in social status which gave power to some, Goya did not just connect personalities and events but used his art as a means to convey the impressions and views of the Spanish society. The horrors that had ensued during the Spanish Inquisition, which punished those who exhibited any semblance of agreement with Judaism and other beliefs that went against Catholicism, were vividly illustrated in the prints created by Goya at the time. These were shown graphically throughout the course of the film, representing the work made by the artist outside of his commissioned portraits. This coincides with the opinion that classified Goya as a genius who was capable of illustrating doubts and anxieties, which was his way of responding to his country’s state of war, oppression, and poverty. He played the role of social interpreter, by artfully imagining symbolic images of the Church’s power, and how they represented the fears of the public. The disturbing prints Goya made, which troubled the Holy Office immensely, were to be later known as The Black Paintings. In recent times, this collection began to be shrouded with controversy, as some historians believe that they were actually by the hand of Goya’s son Javier who has not been given much publicity. Goya’s continued favor with the powerful was especially established in the film, mainly through his popularity as painter of royal portraits. Particularly, the film shows his work on the likeness of Isabella, Queen to Charles IV, which accurately showed her physical characteristics; ultimately, the portrait was not received favorably by the Queen. This incident underlines a major theme in the movie, as stated by the fictional character Brother Lorenzo: a person sees himself differently from how others see him. Such is the ideology of Goya, whose ability to capture life and nature in their entirety would leave no room for false depictions, even at his own expense. III. Relationships with His Subjects One of the film’s main characters is Ines de Bilbatua, the beautiful daughter of a rich merchant, who was tortured by the Holy Office on allegations of Judaism. In contrast to Goya’s impression of the Queen, Ines’ portrait was impeccable in its beauty, and even surpassed reality. Goya’s personal knowledge of the girl’s character figured considerably in the image in his mind and on canvas, proving how his own emotions and opinions of people are reflected in his work. Particular in Goya’s portraits is his depiction of his subject’s mouth—which varies from grinning and smirking, like the Queen’s, to serene and graceful, as in Ines’. This contrast is ironic, since the pointed ugliness of the Queen made no effect on her social status, while Ines’ beauty still caused her to be imprisoned for fifteen years. More than the people he had been commissioned to capture on canvas, Goya is credited for graphically illustrating the brutality of the Peninsular War. While this was not explicitly shown in the film, the physical evidences that exist to this day prove Goya’s significant contributions in narrating the evils of the period. IV. Conclusion The legacy of Francisco Goya has been appropriated by several filmmakers in an attempt to convey the passions of the artist in the realm of art as well as social and political conditions of his time. Because of the requirements of film language, the more important aspects of Goya’s lifestyle and career are often sacrificed for drama in narration, particularly in Forman’s version. The graphic qualities and visual communication style that mark Goya’s work and philosophy are not always made the focal point, and, in this film, were simply made to act as a representation of history. In truth, the art of Goya indeed serve as historical symbols, yet it is his manner of capturing emotions, fears, evils, and beauty in a way both realistic and absurd that should make him not just a chronicler of history, but a historical figure himself. Bibliography C. Chocano, ‘Goya’s Ghosts’, Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2007, retrieved 18 October 2008, Goya’s Ghosts, dir. M. Forman, 2006. Xuxa Producciones, Spain, 2006. A. Lubow, ‘The Secret of the Black Paintings’, New York Times, July 27, 2003. Napoleonic Guide, ‘Goya’s Disasters of War’, retrieved 18 October 2008, L. Simon, ‘The Sleep of Reason’, World and I, retrieved 18 October 2008, D. Sylvester, About Modern Art: Critical Essays, 1948-1996, Henry Holt and Co. , 1997.

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