Francisco de Goya’s Los Caprichos, which I have studied in many different settings over the past few years, become particularly powerful in relation to later prints by other artists whom his work inspired. “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” is a classic print, and a pivotal point in Goya’s turn towards social critique through art. Goya’s criticism is more nuanced than a surface reading suggests. “Reason” is a reference to the grounded, intellectual mindset of the Enlightenment, which was sweeping Spain when he produced this work. Goya warns, it seems, against giving oneself over entirely to rationality. Nightmarish elements of society will still emerge from shadows if men are governed solely by logic. It seems to be an argument for a balance between imagination or creativity and reason. If Spain continues on a path of stale logic and buried corruption, Goya hints that these nightmares might become a reality. The nightmarish quality of this print lies in what is left unsaid, and in the un-pictured images of horror from Spanish society that could not be written off as the product of dreams. In connecting Goya as an inspiration for Dali, and Eko, one understand the sinister undertones of all of these works. Though these artists have certainly taken a page from Goya’s book, none can quite measure up to Goya’s first illustrated nightmare, a suppressed siren for his corrupt society. It is less so the macabre quality of his images, so much as a sense of psychological resonance, of haunting, in Goya’s prints. Still, Dali and Eko effectively borrow the dual sense of parity and detail that defines Goya’s work, as well as a melding of images from the conscious and unconscious worlds that renders each print inexplicable, yet disturbing.
Eko print Goya
Which is more frightening to you? Why?
2 Replies to “Goya as a printmaking inspiration”
I find the Eko print to be more frightening than the Goya because of the intensity of the black and white contrast. The Goya is still dark and eerie, but I find the Eko to be especially frightening due to the inclusion of weaponry, sharp angles, and abstracted content.
I find the Eko also to be more frightening on the surface level, simply from the contrast and sinister elements, but on a more psychological level, I find the Goya more haunting. The Eko is definitely scary, but Goya’s seems to be a more accurate representation of a living nightmare.