Goya: The Last Carnival (Reaktion Books - Essays in Art and by Victor I. Stoichita

By Victor I. Stoichita

This fascinating booklet on Goya concentrates at the last years of the eighteenth century as a missed milestone in his life.Goya waited till 1799 to put up his celebrated sequence of drawings, the Caprichos, which provided a private imaginative and prescient of the "world became upside down". Victor I. Stoichita and Anna Maria Coderch reflect on how subject matters of Revolution and Carnival (both obvious as inversions of the status quo) have been obsessions in Spanish tradition during this interval, and make provocative connections among the shut of the 1700s and the top of the Millennium. specific emphasis is put on the artist's hyperlinks to the underground culture of the ugly, the gruesome and the violent. Goya's drawings, regarded as a private and mystery laboratory, are foregrounded in a learn that still reinterprets his work and engravings within the cultural context of his time.

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2 ? Cross-dressing was very much part of the carnivalesque ritual and formed its own system with its companions licence and reversal. The protruding stomach was also a figure of excess which, in this instance, became part of the system in a dialectical manner - that is to say, as excess in reversal and in licence. Goethe, with his usual sharpness, in fact captured this relationship in a performance given by a Carnival 'queer': At that moment, having had a fright, the pregnant woman feels unwell; a chair is brought, the other women see to her, 17 Goya, 'Malicious Fool', c.

In this context, there is an indirect response to the question just formulated. In effect, in the world of the Carnival, morality does not have a great role to play, since it is also, and above all, a time of absolute permissiveness, a time for gaiety when the world is turned upside down. In the drawings just analyzed, carnivalesque examples and situations are the object of short but careful observations. They are extra-temporal examples and situations that can be found in any Carnival and at any period in history.

In one of Cranach's versions (illus. 12), Hercules is portrayed as a German knight, whose beard and - in the preparatory drawing 21 - other manly attributes have been highlighted by the painter. Hercules is in the process of being dressed in women's clothes by three young women with plunging necklines, while a fourth, the most elegant of all (probably Omphale herself), looks on. Two of the women are covering the hero's bearded face with a shawl, while another is teaching him to spin, having already placed the distaff under his arm.

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