Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taft Show Again Draws Intense Emotion, Wonder

The last two times I was moved to near tears in a gallery, I was at the Taft. This is a good feeling that lasts well after the visit, well after the exhibition closes.

Since finally seeing Francisco Goya: Los Caprichos at the Taft Museums of Art, I've been haunted by the challenging subjects illustrated in the show. Critical of the ruling class as well as common societal practices that victimize women, children, and the working class resulted in a series of images that are either horrific (Todos caerán)or in some cases comical (Asta su abuelo). While walking through the gallery I found myself either turning away in knowing disgust, looking more closely (the gallery provides guests with magnifying glasses to better look at the detailed prints), or uncomfortably laughing at Goya's commentary.

I shouldn't be surprised by the mixture of emotion this series draws. I've seen many of these and taught about Goya and his struggles late in his career over the realization many of his earlier paintings celebrated the very class he grew to dislike. But Goya's questioning of humanity itself is most jarring. Ironically, even the most cynical person walking through the gallery recognizing similar societal ills as part of contemporary American culture would be moved to wonder and perhaps hope things are better now.

Even with the threat of the Inquisition, Goya faced truth, even if privately, and continued with his account of the atrocities of war with his Disasters of War series. This viewer's hope is that cynicism does not bar today's artists from an honesty that may even draw tears.


Anonymous said...

Kathy--I'm glad you had a moving experience with our Goya show. I'm wondering, what was the last exhibition here that moved you to tears? --T. Muente

Me said...

"Drawn by New York"

I wrote about it here: