Goya was neglected for quite a few decades after he died. And when he painted these "black paintings" toward the end of his life he seemed to be painting only for himself. No longer fashionable, he decorated his walls, within his own house, with these monsters. And they now hang in their own room in the basement of the Prado, in Madrid. Along with more than a hundred of his other paintings, tapestries, drawings, and so-called cartoons. One could spend a day with this collection alone.

What a bleak view of humanity! But explosive and thoroughly compelling, aesthetically unrivaled by any artist since or before. Completely original, like the paintings of all the great Spaniards. Including the Greek.

Yes, go down to the basement of the Prado, enter the room where the Black Paintings are on display. They'll cheer you up, actually. When you go back out onto the street you should be fortified. For you have spent the past half hour or hour or two with reality. Nothing you will see can compare with the truth of these dismal paintings. Imagine living in a house surrounded by these pictures? Old, forgotten, wanted by the police, Goya painted them for himself. When he came in out of the rain, tired, in the late afternoon he had to look at them. When he started the day he looked at them. Did he study them then as works of art, wondering how he could have done them better? What went through the mind of this unique genius?

The academic association with Rubens strikes me as doubtful. Goya made a career of documenting humanity’s brutalities. He may have launched from Rubens’ approach but did something entirely for himself. Or God. Look at the engravings. As for the portraits, look at them too. He made his imbecile kings appear like imbeciles, same as Velazquez. How would Picasso have done it?

And speaking of imbecile kings..... here’s a small cartoon by Quintanilla. Which is kind of funny.

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