Goya's War

Goya's War: Los Desastres de la Guerra

Los Desastres de la Guerra
January 17 - May 14, 2017
Opening Reception:Saturday, January 28, 5-7 PM

“Goya’s War” presents the complete set of 80 etchings published as Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War) in 1863. Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) etched the 80 plates that comprise the set in reaction to the horrors of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain and the political turmoil that followed. Created 200 years ago, these prints remain relevant to our world. They have inspired generations of artists—Manet, Picasso, Otto Dix, Warhol, the Chapman brothers, and Enrique Chagoya. Individual prints continue to be used as illustrations in contemporary political commentary.

Given their subjects of death, brutality, and the impact of war on civilians of all ranks and ages, Los Desastres de la Guerra are not easy to look at, and perhaps for this reason are rarely exhibited in their entirety. A collaboration of the Pomona College Museum of Art and the University Museums, University of Delaware, this exhibition and the accompanying catalogue present all 80 prints of the fine first edition from the collection of the Pomona College Museum of Art. It is curated by Goya scholar Janis Tomlinson, Director of the University Museums of the University of Delaware.

Tomlinson proposes a departure from the traditional installation that follows the sequence of etchings imposed some years after they were created and standardized in the first edition of 1863. Breaking with the published sequence, she invites us to consider the artist’s endeavor within its historical context by presenting the etchings in five groups - Carnage, Atrocity, Martyrdom, Famine, and Emphatic Caprices—that reveal Goya’s clear stylistic evolution over the four years (1810-14) during which he etched these plates. 

Short introductions to each of the five sections offer new research on both the war and on life in Madrid, where Goya lived throughout this dark period. The very materials used by the artist corroborate this chronology. As the war progressed, the copper needed for the etching plates became scarce and to conserve material the plate and image size were diminished. We become newly aware of Goya’s accomplishment, as we imagine him obsessively recording the accounts he heard, or inventing nightmares of atrocity that remain relevant today.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, with essays by Tomlinson and Kathleen Stewart Howe, the Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel '23 Pomona College Museum of Art and Professor of Art History.

Following its inauguration at the University of Delaware, the exhibition traveled to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN; The Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavillion at the University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign;  The Colorado State University Art Museum, Fort Collins, CO. The final stop of the tour returns it to the Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA.

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About the Curator 

Tomlinson is the author of six books on Goya and on Spanish painting and was the U.S. Curator for the exhibition, Goya: Images of Women  (Museo del Prado, Madrid; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 2001-2). Her writings have been translated into six languages, and she has lectured and contributed to exhibitions on the artist at museums and universities in the U.S. and Canada, Europe, Mexico and South America.

Goya's War: Los Desastres de la Guerra

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