VISUAL ARTS With Richard Ingleby
Saturday 15 February 1997
The Disparates, Wakefield Art Gallery (01924 305796) to 23 Feb, then Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 1 March-13 April and touring across the country to the end of 1998
Francisco Goya is one of the greatest Spanish artists of all time, but, sadly, he is also one of the worst served by British public collections. We have great paintings by Velasquez and Picasso, but apart from a couple of portraits in the National Gallery in London and a little prison interior in the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, there are no Goyas of any real quality in this country.
Except, that is, for his prints. These are a different matter. The British Museum has the largest collection of them in the world, and the Ashmolean in Oxford, the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge and the National Galleries of Scotland all have good holdings, although too often they are hidden from public view, or tucked away in darkened rooms.
So, any exhibition which brings these reserves out into the open is a good thing, and currently there are two, one closing and one setting off on a two-year national tour. This weekend is the last chance to see The Disasters of War, at Duff House, a far-off outpost of the Scottish National Gallery, an exhibition that has been open since last autumn celebrating the 250th anniversary of Goya's birth.
Too late for the anniversary celebrations, but better now than never, the Arts Council is touring The Disparates. These were Goya's last and most bizarre etchings: a monstrous marriage of horror and comedy. Made at the end of his life (when he was totally deaf and more than a little mad) they show the darkest side of Goya's genius and a sort of surrealism that leads out of the 18th century and into the modern world.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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