Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sociopolitical Goya

The Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya (30 March 1746 – 16 April 1828) has been regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and as the first of the moderns. The subversive and subjective elements in his art provided a model for the work of later generations of artists, including Picasso. Known as a chronicler of history, Goya produced numerous thought provoking paintings, drawings, and etchings such as the one shown here.

No se puede saber por que. Digital ID: 1109956. New York Public Library

The etching includes the title of "No se puede saber por que", which translates as "No one knows why", and it is one example of many sociopolitical artworks produced by Goya where the artist portrays the unexplainable horrors of war; indeed no one knows why such acts are performed by one human upon another of kind. A publication from 1914 further explains Goya on this matter...

"About the greatest of human illusions he has no illusion. In drawing after drawing he states without mincing matters his conviction that to fight is after all only to murder. I think that it is this insistence not merely upon strife but upon murder that gives these drawings a character of horror more emphatic than that of any other representations of warfare. And it is not only against the barbarousness of war that he utters his passionate protest, but also against its tragical illogicality. It is not the business of art to attempt to solve the problem of pain or to hazard guesses at the riddle of the universe, and that Goya showed a just sense of its limitations in preferring to exhibit slices of life rather than to attempt an interpretation of the whole. He tosses us these raw and palpitating fragments and leaves us to digest them as best we may."

See my Squidoo Lens, About Sociopolitical Art, to learn more about social and political expression in the arts.

*Francisco Goya. (2009, May 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06:23, May 20, 2009, from

*The New York Public Library Digital Gallery

*Goya - Disasters Of The War, originally published 1914

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