This gallery provides resources for understanding Goya’s unusual and often overlooked sketches of topsy-turvy characters. Educators will be able to present the whimsical aspects of Goya’s sketches, many of which offer a glimpse into Spanish culture, while also exploring possible reasons for the artist’s interest in imbalanced figural subject matter
Description: As an artist who is considered a precursor to the modernist movement, Goya's work includes subjects that can be surreal, macabre, and satirical all at once. From the prints of the Los Caprichos series, which openly satirize and criticize numerous facets of late eighteenth-century Spanish society, to his bleak Pinturas Negras (Black Paintings) painted on the walls of his house towards the end of his life, Goya's art serves as an eccentric yet substantive study.
This lesson utilizes examples from his drawings produced in Bordeaux, France from 1824-28 as well as his series of paintings known as Friar Pedro and El Maragato (The Bandit). The drawings in particular may be examples of Goya "talking to himself" (Frick Collection: Goya's Last Works, February - May 2006), as these were made when he began to lose his hearing and relied more and more on his art to communicate both with himself and his audiences. Where most of his other surreal are "darker" in character, these drawings and paintings exemplify Goya's ability to compose more light-hearted subjects. Scholarly inquiry into Goya's more eccentric art has yielded theroies about a possible mental illness that he suffered from; an explanation for the "topsy-turvy" characters presented both in this lesson and in other famous works of Goya's. An article that explores this theory is available in the Related Resources of this lesson.
Learning Goals: In exploring this lesson students will...
- Learn about some of the leisure activities that nineteenth-century Europeans participated in, and observed, through Goya's drawings.
- Understand how particular events in Goya's life, in particular his health, may have influenced the work he produced.
- Appreciate how artists can use static, two-dimensional, mediums to evoke feelings of dynamsim and movement for the viewer's imagination.
Using this Resource: Spanish language educators and students will be interested in the material culture apparent in Goya’s sketches, including ice skates and roller skates. Science teachers will be interest in the connection of human ailment and art, as this gallery explores the possible connection between Goya’s inexplicable illness and his later interest in imbalanced subject matter. History educators will be interested in the possible political and social undertones associated with imbalanced imagery.
For supplementary activities, contextual information about Goya and his works, as well as a bibliography, download/click on the files posted under Related resources at the bottom of this page. The objects in this lesson are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web source--or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries--to look for other objects that will provide further insight into this exhibition.