The art of Francisco Goya is not something to love or hate. It is something to decipher. The Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale presents “The Caprichos Etchings and Aquatints (1799),” 80 of the artist’s cutting edge copper plate prints, in a rational, eye-level format, to soften the impact of the emotive and chaotic imagery.
The walls of the gallery are lined with etchings along with three centralized pillars containing significant works. This suite of prints is encrypted with moralistic, allegorical, satirical and political messaging that is delivered in a style that prefigures photojournalism. Goya’s Caprichos are populated with freakish characters behaving monstrously.
The set was a propagandistic tool to inspire critical thinking during the Age of Enlightenment. Reason was the platform for enlightenment but hypocrisy reigned in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when the church and monarchy conspired on the notorious Spanish inquisition. Goya unmasks society for turning a blind eye to abominations that had become customary. Viewers should not judge these grotesque images on sight but analyze, put them in context, comprehend Goya’s warnings, and see Goya’s truths. They were his quest for human rights.