Blog sobre Francisco de Goya. Espacio de amistad que aglutine a todos aquellos amigos de Goya o de lo que representa Goya, a la manera de un club on line.

Real Goya

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Image and idea. Art and feeling.

I have in my library a Breviary, edited by the Fondo de Cultura Económica, published in Mexico in 1957. Its author, Herbert Read, writes about the function of the art in the development of human consciousness. An issue that struck me at the time and that could acquire at the legendary library and gallery of art Libros in Zaragoza. For me this is a gem of essay.

In the preface the author mentions Cassirer. Art, myth, religion, knowledge, “all live in special worlds of images, which reflect not only the empirically given, but that rather they produce in accordance with an independent principle”. And Read adds the images, once created, are eternal -or at least they last as have sensory acuity-. But much depends on our ability to create them and their strength, which is certainly what we get involved with the word “progress” in the world of ideas, but we grasp them in the contemplation of the images.

On the great universe of Goya is a painting, ‘The last communion of St. José de Calasanz’, that I use as more than adequate sample to reflect on the question. Goya was in its infancy a student of the Escuelas Pías -founded by Saint Calasanz- and there’s no doubt that would be indelibly marked in his spirit by the figure and work of the founder. I refer to this painting: just look at it with some attention and the viewer will be caught completely. It is a work of full and absolute maturity, peak in the creative activity of coincidence in time with the very famous black paintings. And it is especially a painting’s formal complexity, demonstrative of real capacity for the creation of images with sensory acuity.


Last communion of St. José de Calasanz Oil on canvas.     250 x 180 cm. Francisco de Goya, 1819 Calasancio Museum. Madrid, Spain

When already in a decisive moment of his life, with and advanced age and with great experience and knowledge receives commissioned to this painting, Goya raises in his entirety the matter and reaches to reflect, with admirable vibration, the very remarkable love that comes through.

Art is the essential tool in the development of human consciousness. These are words of Conrad Fiedler, whose importance as a philosopher of art are more than a half century of recognition in his native Germany. And consciousness of Goya exceeded by far the limited to attempting an interpretation only of devotion, tasteless and out of step. A custom scale (both by the size of the painting and its destination for a high altar) Goya wanted and knew how to be more celestial and less earthly, because it is apparent that Goya was a spiritual, full of affection also superior and human being.

It is not about showing an illusion, nor even the illusion of reality, but to represent the reality of the same consciousness, subjective reality. At the borders of the self conscious area have no spatial or temporal boundaries. And in the manner of St. Augustine in his Confessions, Goya and his psychological penetration capture the issue implicit in the task of making own interior life something intelligible and credible to other men.

Good approach, of course, to complete an assignment that, without doubt pleased him, that provided the great joy of trying to make a painting that achieved success being mirror to others, be the object of attention and be him imitated and admired, and witness to posterity, example, model and useful resource to other sentient beings. And how not to be so, how not get immensely happy if you could get to be the voice of those who cry out in silence at the heart of all? How not to feel happy to get to transmit high feelings? To be the vehicle chosen by the friars who raised him to be him, just him, commissioned to show to the world the sublime beauty of the truth of a Saint ridden in their entirety before the Eucharist, precisely on the day of his death? Yes, the last communion of Calasanz before moving on to a higher stage. To find the ultimate and definitive peace in front of all those to whom he loved in the world. His brothers in the order, his students and his most deeply felt beliefs. It is offered to Goya transform the mystical in art and to achieve this will present an outer facet of the internal reality of Calasanz.

Goya achieves succeed of such challenge and gets finally paint this painting in the emotional state that sought so hard and formally translating that inner world of feeling. A painting which image continues today to be eternal and resisting with the same sensory acuity in that distant and decisive 1819.

Gonzalo de Diego

The National Gallery and Goya

If I’m not confused, the London National Gallery (NG) has among its funds five excellent paintings of Goya. Three portraits: one of the painter and collector Andrés del Peral, the one of Isabel de Porcel (painted over another portrait of a soldier in uniform) and that of the Duke of Wellington. And other two paintings: “A Picnic” and a scene from “The Forcibly Bewitched” painted for the Duke of Osuna. It’s comforting to see them there exposed and enhanced its importance as come out of the hand of our Francisco de Goya. All of them are hung with all dignity and fairness, without large fussing nor pretentious excesses and the possibility of having them so close and taste its virtues is grateful for.



Retrato de Isabel Lobo Velasco de Porcel
Oleo 82 x 54 cm.
Francisco de Goya, 1804 – 1805
National Gallery, Londres

But it is not precisely about what I want to write down here. For me there are issues which by elementals are evident and, therefore, do not need to be demonstrated. Simply to observe them and pay a little attention to how others do when they observe, analyze and treat the art for which those who do not have their intellectual refinement, and their level of knowledge, we learn and know conclude with relative ease, so are useful to our personal training and, if this is the case, for the benefit of the society in which we live.

It is known that the Anglo-Saxons are people who “look” very good the art. That takes advantage of it and analyzes every detail and knows properly how to relate its aspects and nuances. This is the reason why they prefer seriousness always and also to show them, rather than the so-called “blockbusters“, known in the world of exhibitions those which are conceived to make money and much media noise. They are in a more developed cultural stage.


In this last month of April we have had occasion to watch in our cinemas an exceptional report, three-hour duration and in original version, on the aforementioned NG. Conducted by veteran Frederick Wiseman, meticulously follows the usual work system of the American filmmaker: pure observation, showing how things are there through an objective image capture, getting after a basic installation a subjective speech full of brilliant intelligence.

On his journey to the heart of the Museum -that would say the critic- visits thoroughly “the place, the way of working, relations with the world, the staff and the public, as well as its paintings”. Along these walks through the galleries shows the life of the art gallery, its educational programs and the intimate life of the Museum. And since with all of this he makes “a deep claim of public, of the school of the museums”, I think that documentaries like the one that concerns us should be required viewing not only for our cultural leaders -the authentic and the consequential from policy or finance -, but also to all politicians in general: see the meetings on the management of budgets, the absolute lack of personal selfishness and the permanent search for arguments that inexcusably lead to the overall benefit of the institution which, in every position and in every case, serves and represents.


Be aware of the importance of what is at hand; of prime order gravity, of indispensable professionalism at all and each of the jobs and management. That can speak, and is spoken, everything (marketing meeting), seriously and reflecting all proposals.

From the authentic professional that restores and makes frames, through specialist in lighting heart-knowing how to handle the complicated structure of the lighting system for the perfect view of the pictures, enhancing the work and avoiding the less damage that excess may cause; by the award-winning specialist who knows the reason of things, and for what the tools he uses; the wonderful conclusion of the restoration specialists who achieve mastery of the issue and that once known the result of the most conscientious of studies, take the precaution of bringing a perfectly erasable varnish in its time (if future need it or withholding so that the restoration is adequate to the current canons, but it does not obstruct that which in the future might think is best solution). By the way that to this respect is very interesting, in the present exhibition of van der Weyden in the National Museum of the Prado, to observe how identical principle is followed in the restoration of the famous Calvary.


Virtues and procedures, work systems which we suppose at the order of the day in all the major international museums that around the world are, even if we ignore the evidence it is in any of them.

And very important: in the documentary about the NG see also today is necessary, and seeks to with relish, the participation of the general public not only with its assistance, but in the decisions and acts of great museums, major cultural events. Real participation in exhibitions, great cycles of concerts, conferences and publications. It is the sign of the times. To do this we will.

This of the NG is a working procedure that resembles that makes a seasoned jockey with the necessary anticipation, few hundred metres before reaching the goal. That “be arriving” perfectly well settled already from the last curve, for the decisive moment. Yes, the British know a lot about art… and horses. And relate events, observations, objects, things and feelings to better understand life and what art means. But not all entails a great mystery that can be banned to Latins or easterners, to give other examples. It is more a working system, meticulousness in the procedures for what is not an impediment neither the language nor the culture of any other old people and well prepared, and culturally biased.


So, let’s go to Goya. If he was born again, that is a recurrent phrase, for sure that would be nice to see how some of his works live at the NG, are visited by 6.5 million viewers (2014 data) in the second museum most visited of the United Kingdom, and are maintained and offered so honourably.


However Goya would not feel happy, and is sad, if he saw how is offered his figure and his work precisely in the land where he was born. In a country like Spain that is above its truths and that officially is said that culture generates brand, but this is so lack of brilliance. In his homeland, Zaragoza, last year experienced a calamitous path full of mistakes, with two exhibitions type blockbuster (the one of a year ago and that of right now). That then began narrow-minded and clumsy in the friendly countryman and ending now under the umbrella of the Prado and its most qualified representative in the goyesco. Someone who says that the Prado is not Goya’s Museum but the University of Goya and that however today gives its approval to something that is not at all described as Museum of Goya with scandal and is not even a distant hint of the University of Goya.



La gallina ciega

Oleo / lienzo  269 x 350 cm.

Francisco de Goya, 1789

Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Rosary’s mistakes and impassive insisting in a city which best Museum receives 60,000 visitors a year: i.e. the hundredth part than the NG in a city that is not a hundredth part of London and, in addition, has works of Goya to get most important numbers. But, truly isn’t that hundredth? Is it perhaps because the folly of mismanagement? Is that in Zaragoza there is not craving of knowledge? No refining capacity? Nor desire for improvement and perfection? Let the taxpayer answer these questions.


No, Goya would not feel happy. He would be rather flabbergasted with pointed above, reading, looking and hearing how the first cultural authority in the region, in a revealing and very comfortable table for three (rather than round), says naïvely and without blushing that: “I don’t know about art. But I am responsible for the art”(sic). Super.


Gonzalo de Diego

Thoughtful Art

There are pictures that are worth for the entire exhibition. And are not always those we occasionally see, isolated, in museums; but there are exceptions to this rule, as when bring us home the “Innocent X” by Velázquez. A few years ago that outrageous portrait temporarily visited the National Prado Museum. The problem, in such cases, is queuing or seeks recommendation to do it with peace of mind, especially if you live outside of Madrid. Or establishing a date and time… that comes down to five minutes! And being part of a group. They are the problems derived from the mass culture marketing.



Portrait of Innocent X
Oil on canvas, 140 x 120 cm. Diego Velázquez, 1650. Galleria Doria Pamphili. Roma (Italy)

You have a consolation travelling to Rome though, or take the chance during a trip there, to go along the Corso until the number 305, very close to Piazza Venezia, and enter a passage relatively well signposted to the exceptional Palazzo Doria-Pamphili, which hosts the also known as Doria-Pamphili Gallery. There, a labour day and at a convenient time, let’s say by noon, is for one the immense fortune to arrive, mostly solo, to the dressing room that houses it and which was purposed built in 19th century. There is the Innocent X (born Giovanni Battista Pamphili) by Velázquez, performed in the summer of 1650, in the only company of the bust executed by Bernini. And it is for one only, if you have that fortune. Nobody is going bothering you; No one will come to “push” so you’re done and you go. No one will tell you ‘what an horror!’ or that your 5 minutes have been completed. You can stay half an hour or longer and enjoy such an incredible fortune. You can meditate art as few times in life. And to this magnitude, the question: how to believe that a picture painter like this had not reached yet its summit? Of course he reached it! Finished the feast and renewed internally by such creative illusion, after all, you hope to wake up the meditation and the dream of the time and back at the Corso only a good Osteria or Trattoria will be duly temper “around the world”, and if you have chosen good, your spirit comforted.

Goya would visit such “unique exhibition”? Would the Aragonese see this marvel of portrait? I do not know it, but he must have seen it; especially knowing Goya’s admiration by his compatriot Diego Velázquez. And because there was Goya, in Rome of 1770, when he made his trip to Italy, in the manner of the good and applied European artist in his particular grand tour. He has no more than 24 years. This means, according to the common law of that time, 26 years yet to suffer. But as he is a genetic prodigy, is remaining still, indeed, 58 years of thoughtful art.

Writes Katharina Hegewisch “The art puts a mirror against the individual to whom appears the reflection of his nostalgia, of his problems, his troubles and utopias; Returns the private public and allows to live experiences by proxy. It functions as a seismograph that records the fluctuations of existence; it forces us to move, unlock, excites and provokes. “(l’Art de l’exposition, Ed. Du Regard.)” Paris. 1998).

So, today for little fan to fine arts we may be, all have visited exhibitions which were recorded in our retina and memory, and others that were quickly forgotten, fairly or unfairly. And Hegewisch added, “Each one receives the art differently. Knowing if an exhibition will be perceived as a temple, a hell or a fair, if it will be transformed in triumph or in financial fiasco, those are the elements on which not can influence but partially. Success is a relative concept, which for the organizer is defined differently that for the artist or the public.”

As mentioned above, there are pictures that are worth for the entire exhibition, but perhaps as important, or more, is to know how to meet the artworks and give them and added value if even possible. It is a moral and intellectual added value that constitutes an inalienable right. I am referring to those curators with exhibit criteria that know how to do it; they have that capacity, that noble virtue that makes them responsible for the content and shape of the exhibition, as well as the staging. Certainly there are them, by misfortune, whose grace resides in countless places in the human body and that provide us with the misfortune to compose real clunkers, made based on good artworks or, even worse, rare mix of good and bad works. Yes, it is all a disgrace that some well-meaning but little capable patrons entrusted awkwardly, to second-rate characters, tasks that rather than seek good examples end up becoming a canon for the reprehensible. In the best of cases, will be a sad waste of time and money, going straight to oblivion.

We are involuntary witnesses of cases like this and regret the extreme insufficiency and how some have things completely upside down; as it should had never be done, or even attempted. And we wonder how can they think such folly to this genie? But, where have the eyes? And we are not even consoled when knowing that this not only occurs with exhibitions, but also in cinema, theatre, in publishing and in so many other disciplines or acid striking situations.

Returning to the Doria-Pamphili collection, since the 19th it has the dressing room built just to host the famous portrait of Velázquez and seems that from the 18th century there is in that well-deserving institution a document detailing precisely the placement that should have every picture, according to criteria of symmetry and stylistic affinity. It isn’t bad, is it? But you cannot squeeze a rock, or set formulas to provide infallible methods. Free will, the lucky coincidence, the sense of proportion, the golden number, the trained eye, the spatial vision, knowledge of the artist and his work, the experience, symmetry, time, well directed vocation, assimilated knowledge, virtue of distinguishing, taste, the opportunity, the winks of intelligence, guidance, well toned senses, sense of smell, viewing, meditation on art, hearing, stylistic affinity, the lighting, the meaning of colour, shape and proportion, sensitivity, contour, moisture and even the magnetism… objectively and subjectively worth and are used simultaneously and successively by those who can and want to do it. And we could add more and more constraints presided over by the study and good education, but cited the magnetism, even though it may be taken out of context, allow me to highlight a paragraph that has touched me from the book “Lord of the World”, by Robert Hugh Benson (Christianity Editions. Madrid, 2013). It reads as follows:

… “Gradually realized that this crowd was like no other that had seen. To his inner sense, it appeared presenting one greater than any other unit. I could feel the magnetism in the air. Something like the feeling that was in process a creative act, whereby thousands of individual cells were being amalgamated more and more every moment in a huge sensitive being with desire, emotion and consciousness. The voices cry seemed to make sense only as the reactions of the creative power that expressed to himself.”

Yes indeed, those very few works of art cut off from the world; these meagre exhibitions whose internal coherence issues magnetism, emotions and manifest spirituality; that certainly are, that can be seen and enjoyed; that teach intellectual courage and show the audacity of its organizers and that are what exemplary distinguishes a few museums, institutions, patrons and organizers from others. But there is no need to remove with a stroke everything that does not reach excellence. It’s enough and excess not saying to the world: look, my work, my exhibition is wonderful, magnificent and exemplary. Instead of deploring its extreme inadequacy and very humbly ask for forgiveness. It’s enough with a minimum of prudence, modesty and humility before a well intentioned work; spare all pride. The greatest know and practice. Those who are not, to our misfortune, still ignore it. Let us not be confused.


Gonzalo de Diego

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