Francisco de Goya y Lucientes is one of my all-time favorite artists, as you witnessed here. I’ve read many biographies of him but Goya by Robert Hughes is my unquestionable favorite. Hughes is a darling of the art writing known for his theories on criticism. He was infatuated with Goya and spent his career studying the artist. This love comes through in his writing. It’s less a biography of a famous figure and more an intimate story of an old friend. Goya is humorous, interesting, and deeply informative.
Goya’s work speaks to me on many levels. Operating during one of the most tumultuous periods in Spanish history, he depicted the horrors of the inquisition, Napoleon’s occupation of Spain, and the follies of a society with a sharp divide between upper and lower class. Additionally, he went deaf about midway through his life. My grandfather was a painter who went blind around the same age and both artists experienced a dissociation from the world that comes through in their work.
I’ll be honest, Goya is a text written for those with a strong historical and artist interest. The 500 page book went by fast for me as a lover of Goya’s work, but it’s definitely geared towards a specific audience. However, if you’re interested in Spanish history, the book provides an artistic lens into the country’s dramatic past.