Goya’s Caprices

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

A collection of 80 engravings entitled “Los Caprichos de Goya” is being exhibited in Casa de Cultura Banamex until January 2014. Admission is free.

In the exhibit the themes range from the realistic to the fanciful, between the conscious and the unconscious. The pieces reflect an artist who has liberated his inner world, his fantasies and anguishes, united against the church and the monarchy.

The collection was created by the artist between 1793 and 1796, after a difficult illness that resulted in a loss of hearing. Through his life Goya experienced several depressions, caused—among other reasons—by illness and the war. His different frames of mind found form in his work, and his moments of crisis fueled his creative endeavors.

Gilberto Manuel Ramírez, a representative of Fondo Cultural Banamex, attended the grand opening and commented that the exhibition is a satire of 18th-century Spanish society, specifically of the church and the aristocracy. Ramírez also remarked that the collection is divided into two parts; the first presents more realistic and satirical engravings, criticizing human reason and behavior. The second part comprises delirious scenes populated by strange creatures.

According to Ramírez, “Goya shared his reflections on society’s defects, always contrary to religious fanaticism, superstition, the Inquisition and religious associations, always trying to get fairer laws as well as a new educational system. He criticized all of these.”

“Los Caprichos” was published as an album in 1799 and available for sale for only 14 days. When Godoy was defeated, Goya feared reprisals by the Inquisition, so he withdrew the collection from sale. In 1803, he offered the copper plates and 240 unsold sets of the aquatint prints to the king. In exchange, Goya asked for a lifelong pension for his son, Javier, of 12,000 reales yearly.

From the plates 20 more sets were printed, the first in about 1821 and the last in 1837.

The Casa de Cultura Banamex is located at calle Canal 4. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 9am–6pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am–6pm (the schedule can change without prior notice).


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