How Goya Interprets Our Modern Moment

Goya. Francisco Goya. The Spanish painter of war and upheaval. He’s relevant right now, again. We’ll go to Goya.

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Two centuries ago, Spain was a mess.  Struggling to escape the Inquisition.  Invaded by Napoleon’s France. Wracked  by war, confusion, random cruelty.  In the midst of all that, the great Spanish master Francicso Goya painted, made prints.  Of kings and aristocrats.  And then of chaos.  The Sleep of Reason.  The Disasters of War.  Execution.  Torture.  In our time of beheading and atrocity and dismay, Goya is having a revival.  The last of the Old Masters.  The first of the moderns.  Helping us see again in 2014.  This hour On Point:  The dark side then and now – and Goya.

— Tom Ashbrook


Stephanie Stepanek, curator of prints and drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Co-curator of the Boston MFA exhibit, “Goya: Order and Disorder.”

Janis Tomlinson, director of University Museums at the University of Delaware. Author of “From El Greco to Goya” and “Francisco Goya y Lucientes.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Goya’s Pop-Culture Moment — “Goya is a pop culture phenomenon today in part because of the modern themes he explored. He laid bare anxiety, violence, sadism, lust and ambivalence with a depth that many experts call unmatched by artists who came before him.”

Boston Globe: Special relationship brings Goya masterpieces to MFA — “It is no accident that such an important show is at the MFA, and not New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art or Washington’s National Gallery of Art. The Spanish loans for ‘Order and Disorder’ shed light on a key relationship the museum has had with its counterpart in Spain, and in large part through Mena. Her connection to Boston, which began 40 years ago over lunch with renowned MFA curator Eleanor Sayre, has led to each institution loaning important works over the years, works that might not otherwise move so freely.”

Boston Magazine: ‘Goya: Order and Disorder’ Opens at the Museum of Fine Arts — “Still, others, like the one of The Last Communion of St. Joseph Calasanz and Self-Portrait with Doctor Arrieta in the final section of the exhibition that provides ambitious summary of what makes Goya Goya, require a bit more thinking to decipher. Although they vary in subject and context—one a religious altarpiece and the other a gift for a friend who had treated the artist through a serious illness—they connect in theme, both evoking the transition between life and death.”

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