University of Delaware
Francisco Goya, Las resultas (The Results), ca. 1813-4. Etching and aquatint. Pomona College Museum of Art.

Sept. 4-Dec. 8: 'Goya's War' exhibition

Old College Gallery hosts exhibition 'Goya's War: Los Desastres de la Guerra'


8:53 a.m., Aug. 30, 2013--The University Museums of the University of Delaware will present the exhibition “Goya’s War: Los Desastres de la Guerra” from Sept. 4-Dec. 8 in the Old College Gallery.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) created the eighty etchings that comprise Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War) in reaction to the Napoleonic invasion of Spain and the political turmoil that followed. 

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Created 200 years ago, these prints remain relevant to today’s world -- artists from Manet and Picasso to Golub and the Chapman brothers have looked to them for inspiration; they have been reformatted to serve as a cover for Susan Sontag’s exploration of pain; and they appear as illustrations in 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, and is curated by Goya scholar Janis Tomlinson, director of the University Museums.

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. Instead, she invites viewers 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 the need to conserve meant that the images diminished in size.

The viewer becomes newly aware of Goya’s accomplishment as they imagine him obsessively recording the accounts he heard, or inventing nightmares of atrocity that remain, unfortunately, relevant today.

An opening lecture and noontime lectures will accompany the exhibition. For program information see the University Museums website or call 302-831-8037.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue, with essays by Tomlinson and Kathleen Stewart Howe, who discusses the persistence of Goya’s imagery in contemporary art. 

Following its inauguration at UD, the exhibition will travel to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tenn.; the Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavillion at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the Colorado State University Art Museum, Fort Collins, Colo.; and the Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, Calif.

About the curator

Janis 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, D.C., 2001-02). 

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.

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