Goya 1746 - 1828
The Kunsthistorisches Museum will host the exhibition "Goya - 1746 - 1828. It is Austria’s first monograph exhibition dedicated to Spain´s most important painter between Diego Velázquez in the 17th and Pablo Picasso in the 20th century, although individual works by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos 1746 - Bordeaux 1828) have previously been on show in Vienna.
Political and social upheavals in Spain during the late 18th and early 19th century were probably contributing factors in the development of Goya´s genius. Their radicalness – caused by Spain’s belated exposure to the ideas of the Enlightenment - was not matched by any other European country at the time. Goya developed from the rococo playfullness of his early designs for tapestries which, however, already indicate the disjointed doll-like bodies of hurt individuals, to the magnificent, physiognomically revealing portraits of members of the despotic-decadent society at the court of the Burbon kings of Spain (e.g. the portraits of King Carlos IV and his wife, Maria Luisa).
The expressive realism and the pathos of his war reporting from Napoleon´s conquest of Spain and the wars that followed it place before our eyes the bloody desasters of the butcherings of revolution and uprisings - while contemporary art in southern and central Europe, as well as in the West, was either dominated by the quiet of the graveyard of the Biedermeier, an attempt to escape into Romanticism, or classicist state art instituted by the French Revolution and the regimes that succeeded it.
Among the sitters in these subtly analysing portaits were both the country´s leaders and the painter´s friends and their wives, all members of a small circle of enlightened politicians and men of letters; Goya, deaf since 1793, offers us a glimpse full of empathy into their inner self. But he also executed small-scale depictions of the horrors of prison, hospitals and lunatic asylums, as well as the sometimes humerous capricci depicting pre-romantic scenes featuring witches or bull-fights.
Among the highlights of his graphic art are the "Desastres de la guerra", executed between 1810 and 1820. Here Goya takes the side of the victim against the culprit regardless of the latter´s political affiliation. This led to conflicts with the Inquisition and especially with the despotic regime of King Ferdinand VII, leading eventually to Goya voluntarily emigrating to France. And finally from his late period, his visions of horror, the "pinturas negras" which he painted for his own country house, the Quinta del Sordo, and whose meanings are still subject of controversy.
Goya too was a state artist, repeatedly working for the ruling class, the Church and the State. However, his pictures always encompass effortlessly the whole pictorial tradition of Mediterranean painting, and document the ruptures, fault-lines and ambiguities which allow us today to consider Goya an exponent of modernity.
All of this will be documented in an exhibition in Vienna curated by Manuela B. Mena Marquès Rosenthal, the renowned Goya expert and curator at the Prado, and hosted in conjunction with the Staatliche Museen Berlin. It will include around seventy paintings and thirty-five drawings and graphic works, covering all aspects of Goya´s art and the important phases of his development. Goya´s portraits are of particular interest. The close collaboration with the Prado means that most of the loans in this show come from this, the largest collection of works by Goya and from numerous private Spanish collections, but there will also be additional paintings from other European and American museums.