Istanbul show sheds light on Goya's dark etchings

Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:57am EDT
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By Ayla Jean Yackley

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Goya's bullfighters, prostitutes and demons are on exhibit in Istanbul in what curators called one of the most extensive shows of the Spanish master's work.

"Goya: Witness of His Time," at the Pera Museum, draws together 230 etchings, drawings and oil paintings that detail the upheaval in Spain at the turn of the 19th century.

They also provide insight into the dark imagination of one of Spain's greatest artists. But it is the satire that still resonates, Marisa Oropesa, the curator, said in an interview.

The etching captioned "Even thus he cannot make her out," shows an unctuous suitor sidling up to a woman either genuinely charmed by his overtures or pandering to his romantic illusions.

"This is quite humorous, and its theme is universal," Oropesa said. "Generally, one would expect the man seeking a prostitute to recognize one."

It is part of "The Caprichos," or "The Whims", a fantastical series of prints featuring caricatures of Spanish society and evoking the political cartoon. The Caprichos is one of four series of prints that comprise the bulk of the Pera show.

"Tauromaquia" (Bullfighting) depicts the quintessentially Spanish pastime, and "The Follies" series shows contorted humans and demons that predicts Surrealism by more than 100 years.

The aquatint prints of the macabre "Disasters of War" series are a chronicle of the violence meted out against Spaniards by advancing Napoleonic armies between 1808 and 1814.   Continued...