The art in Madrid sticks out as the most remarkable part of my trip. I’ve seen a number of Spanish artists out of context, but seeing them together, in the context of the land that shaped them, the art made sense in a new way.
In particular, I knew virtually nothing about Goya’s black paintings until the end of my visit to the Prado. I had seen Saturn Devouring His Son before, but I hadn’t realized that it was painted as part of the collection of paintings Goya created and surrounded himself with after moving into la Quinta del Sordo (villa of the deaf man), named for the resident before him, although he was also deaf by then. He was also anxious, fearful, cynical, and aware of the potential for evil all around him.
One picture in particular that sticks out is “Fighting with Clubs.” http://www.abcgallery.com/G/goya/goya29.html
Foreshadowing the violence of civil war in Spain and sitting in judgment of provincial clashes, he originally painted the two men with their legs free of the mud that he eventually adds….talk about symbolic of his cynicism about humanity.
I think what I’m captivated by is that no matter how cynical he might be, he still painted these cautionary tales, as if he felt an obligation to give his people a chance to avoid the path they seemed inevitably bound to.
Look up Goya’s black paintings. Imagine a soundless world. And imagine having witnessed Bonaparte’s attack on your city, your kinsmen’s heroism and their rapid destruction as well as the seething tensions in the city ever after. What would you paint?