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Full Set of Francisco Goya's Los Caprichos on View at the Taft Museum of Art
Francisco José de Goya, Can't Anyone Untie Us? (Caprichos, no. 75: ¿No hay quien nos desate?),1796-1797, etching and burnished aquatint. First edition, 1799. Gift of George W. Davison.

CINCINNATI, OH.- Acting as an 18th century version of The Daily Show, Los Caprichos by Francisco Goya took an insightful yet darkly humorous view of contemporary Spanish society. From blasting provincial superstition to criticizing political corruption, this set of etchings confirms Goya’s liberalism and demonstrates the artist’s revulsion at intellectual oppression imposed by political and religious leaders.

The full set of 18th-century Spanish artist Francisco Goya’s 80 haunting images from Los Caprichos (“The Whims” or “The Fantasies,” published in 1799) confronts human hypocrisy, pretense, fear, and irrationality, picturing them in every conceivable form. Information about the artworks and the artist in the gallery during this exhibition will be available in English and Spanish. This is the first time the Taft is offering bilingual labels for an exhibition.

Goya’s singularly original visions of monsters, specters, corpses, and other bitter or callous beings enact challenges to authority of all kinds, including that of the church and state, with great precision and detail.

“I think visitors will find the images in Los Caprichos, though created at the end of the 1700s, incredibly relevant to our current state of the world,” says Deborah Scott, director/CEO of the Taft Museum of Art. “ Goya created these controversial works in a time of economic crisis in Spain. He also articulated his Enlightenment ideals through his work, questioning the church, politicians, and other figures of authority.”

“We also saw with Los Caprichos an opportunity to reach out to Cincinnati’s growing Hispanic community,” says Scott. Labels and wall text in the gallery will be in both English and Spanish in an effort to make the Taft’s special exhibitions more accessible to non-native English speakers.

Los Caprichos are likely the great Spanish artist’s most influential works and continue to inspire artists to this day. As both prints and images, theyare decades ahead of their time. Goya pioneered astonishingly innovative etching techniques, visual forms, and artistic themes, anticipating the later movements known as Realism, Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, and Surrealism.

“In these riveting and often nightmarish images, Goya anticipated by a hundred years Freud’s and the Surrealists’ hallucinatory world of human irrationality and dreams,” says Lynne Ambrosini, chief curator, Taft Museum of Art.

“It’s startling how Goya transforms sometimes ghoulish visions into something of great beauty through the power of his drawing and printmaking techniques,” says Ambrosini. “His dark skies have velvety charcoal surfaces so smooth you’d like to touch them; his monsters have the most alluring, smudged and softened fur, and his decadent Spanish ladies wear lace mantillas drawn with lines of great delicacy.”

The etchings on view are from an early first edition, one of four sets acquired directly from Goya, and belong now to an American private collector. The exhibition is organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California, in association with Denenberg Fine Arts, West Hollywood, California. Goya (1746–1826) is one of the world’s greatest artists, as famous for portraits that seemingly penetrate his sitters’ souls as he is for portrayals of the brutality of the Napoleonic Wars in Spain (1808–14). The Taft Museum of Art owns an important oil portrait by Goya, Queen Maria Luisa of Spain, of about 1800.

Taft Museum of Art | Francisco Goya | Los Caprichos | Deborah Scott |

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