of Alfred Knopf publishers.
Credit: Joyce Ravid
Goya book released
A review specifically about this book is here.
PURCHASE AT AMAZON.COM (Softcover, from $19.00)
a personal promotion tour for this book, to see the schedule that was click here.)
by Robert Hughes.
United States Edition
Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Knopf
Printed in Spain
by Robert Hughes.
Hardcover (UK Edition)
The Harvill Press; £20
By Robert Hughes
Harvill, 439pp, $69.95
promotion page on the book is here.
To read the text
from the books
dustjacket flaps, go here.
Read our Goya
site review on the book page here.
Hughes at the time of doing American Visions, 1997,
From the Time Magazine special edition.
REVIEW BY PETER CRAVEN BOOK AT SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
A visit from Death gave Robert Hughes the impetus to embark on his destiny: his portrait of Goya, a visionary of fear-crazed times, writes Peter Craven.
The story is told that when Robert Hughes, art critic and huntsman, lay trapped in the wreckage of his car in Western Australia, he said, in his pain and desperation, over and over: "Please God, let me live so I can write a masterpiece."
It might have seemed like an odd prayer for Hughes, whose monumental evocation of the convicts, The Fatal Shore, had drawn from Bernard Smith (no automatic admirer) the comment that Hughes had done for the convicts and their place in history what Jules Michelet did for the people of France when he gave their revolution back to them as a form of folk experience. Praise gets no higher and The Fatal Shore (which, as Manning Clark said, showed that Australian history could be the greatest show on Earth) is already an Australian classic. How many books in our literature since the death of Patrick White have such claims to permanence?
Now we have a massive book by Hughes about Goya, and the first question it raises is whether it stands up, in terms of surging narrative and colour of orchestration, to what Hughes has already given us. Hughes, almost alone of his tribe, has given to art criticism the breath of life because he is an imaginative writer, whom the gods obey.
The short answer is yes. Goya presents the story of the great Spanish painter, the power and glory and black tragic ghastliness of his vision, in the context of his tumultuous, blood-drenched, fear-crazed times with a panache and sparkle that will captivate any reader with a feeling for history.
Hughes, for all the fierceness of his sense of aesthetic value, sees Goya's art as the transfiguring mirror walking down the road of atrocity and tragic drama that is the Spain of the Napoleonic War period, its prelude and aftermath. This makes Goya a book that can be read by an aficionado of history as easily as by the art lover. More
REVIEW AT THE DECATUR DAILY BY MARY KAY TEMPLE
Robert Hughes' new biography of Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes
(1746-1828) is as much about the cultural and political history of
18th-century Spain as it is about the painter and graphic artist.
As Hughes reminds us, we know little about Goya's personal life, including
the identity of the illness that left him completely deaf at 46, but
Hughes has other reasons to avoid the traps of biographical reductionism
and Freudian anachronism.
sees Goya in what the artist himself would have regarded as his most
important role: as the visual chronicler of his society, the creator
of its images and the interpreter of its history. Goya worked hard
at his career. His large-scale church commissions, his portraits of
public figures and the royal court are at worst competent an at best
triumphant examples of public art.
public art has its secrets, and Hughes reveals some of them. Goya's
portraits of the royal family were not satires on incompetence, as
legend has it, but keen character studies, like the (literally) warts-and-all
portrait busts of republican Romans. The Bourbon kings, like the patricians,
presumably liked what their artist saw, since they employed him repeatedly.. More
AT THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD
What is perhaps most impressive has been Hughes' ability, at the
same time as being a full-time critic, to produce a steady stream
of major books on a wide range of subjects. The Fatal Shore (1987)
- a harrowing history of the origins of Australia - is his most highly
acclaimed work, though its warts-and-all analysis infuriated many
Australians who dubbed him "The Fatal Bore".
books, Hughes says: "You write a book in order to find out about
a subject you don't know about. As far as I'm concerned the idea of
knowing everything about a subject and then writing a book is absolute
other words, "I'm still learning." . More
AT THE PALM BEACH DAILY
Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2003 Art critic Robert Hughes called
Francisco de Goya "the first modern artist" Tuesday during
his slide-illustrated talk at The Society of the Four Arts.
he died 175 years ago, his work speaks to me with an urgency like
no one else," he said. Goya's power has been felt by artists
ranging from Phillip Guston and Pablo Picasso to filmmaker Luis Bunuel,
Hughes said. More
REVIEW AT NEW ZEALAND STUFF BY BEN LOWINGS
Throughout his powerful images there are mouths agape, howling
pilgrims, muttering crowds, whispering witches; there are scenes of
blood-curdling rape, knife-grinding, hammering weapons at the forge
and cannonfire. They are shocking prefigurements of modernist takes
on war: They have more resonance when you realise the artist was deaf. More
AT THE AUSTRALIAN THE AGE
"Robert Hughes is recovering from his terrible car crash,
but he remains bitter about the events that followed it. He gave this
rare interview to Peter Craven.
is at least familiar with the horror story surrounding Robert Hughes,
the renowned Australian art critic and TV talking head: the accident
that left him crippled, the threat of extortion that came from some
of the travellers in the other car, the dangerous driving charges
that were laid, then dismissed, then reinstated, and his subsequent
sentencing in a court this year.
he has written a book about Goya, the great Spanish depicter of extremity
and pain, of black grotesquerie as well as the disasters of war and
some sparkling society ladies.
says he was always attracted to Goya - "I'm rather drawn to extreme
situations" - but admits that the ghastliness of what he experienced
fed into the book..' More here.
WITH THE DENVER POST
"Q. You write that Goya can be considered as much a part of
our time as (Pablo) Picasso....
A. In some ways rather more, actually. He was just about the first
great realist artist. And his range of subjects included the politics
of his day. It included the sexual morals. He was a tremendous portraitist
of not only the rich and powerful but also the poor and not so powerful.'
Q. What is your take on the recent assertion that some of the late
Goya paintings are, in fact, by his son, Javier?
A. It's rubbish. This notion was floated by a furniture historian
in Madrid, Juan (José) Junquera, and then it was taken up by
The New York Times, which seems to have very little judgment in these
matters. There is absolutely no evidence to support this. Junquera
is obliged to resort to philological quibbles.
There isn't a single Goya expert, and certainly not me, who accepts
this sort of loony attempt to re-attribute the black paintings to
Goya's kid. It's like saying, gee, it was actually Bacon who wrote
Shakespeare's 'Hamlet.' More here.
AT LA TIMES BY SUZANNE MUCHNIC
"Sometimes you are just scared of writing about the objects
in your deepest affection," said Robert Hughes, reflecting on
the 50-year artistic love affair that finally produced his latest
book, on Spanish painter Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes. "I
had a crisis in confidence in my abilities as a writer. I thought
I probably wasn't good enough to carry this one off, to really handle
him, to do justice to him. If you do a book about Goya and you screw
it up, you can hear him laughing." ' More here.
REVIEW BY JON NEWLIN
"Goya was the finest painter of clothing who ever lived --
and what raptures and rhapsodies are inspired by Goya's satins and
laces and muslins! For Hughes, they often far outdazzle any intrinsic
interest the sitters might have -- 'detail for detail, no great tragic
artist has ever been more absorbed, in his untragic moments, by the
minutiae of fashion than Goya.' More here.
MOUNTAIN NEWS BY MARY CHANDLER
"Multiple bones shattered, Hughes finds resolution, if not
rest, in his coma: "Much of the time, I dreamed about Goya. He
was not the real artist, of course, but a projection of my fears.
The book I meant to write on him had hit the wall; I had been blocked
for years before the accident."
chapters later, after the introductory "Driving Into Goya,"
after chronological discussions of Goya's various bodies of work,
after painstaking descriptions of the sad, disjointed political affairs
of Spain and its royals, one thing is clear: If only Goya, that supremely
talented artist and diplomat, could have visited Hughes again. Perhaps,
he could have whispered some answers in Hughes' ear about the perplexing
black paintings of Goya's late life, which Hughes, in more than one
case, sums up as impossible to interpret." More here.
TIMES AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH HUGHES
Goya's "work posited a rather unstable world," says Robert
Hughes in an interview about his new book about the artist. (Realaudio
file, 5:39 minutes) The file is here.
TIMES BOOK REVIEW BY JENNY UGLOW
"Hughes places Goya's career firmly and vividly in the struggles
of Spanish history and culture. Born Francisco de Goya y Lucientes,
in a small village in 1746, he was the son of a master gilder, a craftsman
from Zaragoza, but his mother came from the hidalgo class, the minor
aristocracy whose poverty-stricken arrogance blighted rural Spain.
As a young man he went to Madrid to study with his future brother-in-law,
Francisco Bayeu, and after a visit to Italy in 1770 found work with
Bayeu designing exuberant cartoons for the tapestries in the royal
palaces of Carlos III. His themes were the popular entertainments,
the street theater, musicians and fairs that he himself loved. Goya
adored country life, particularly hunting, a taste he shared with
the king, but he also relished the city, with its Francophile fashion
victims, the petimetres and their opposites, the sexy, earthy girls
known as maja, and their tough majo partners. (In one self-portrait
he wears the bullfighter's short majo jacket.)" More here.
& PRESS ARTICLE BY LENNIE BENNETT
took years to complete. For many of them, Hughes felt blocked. He
says he had horrific dreams in which Goya figured as his tormentor.
"It was a projection of my fears that I was not going to be able
to write the book, that he was too big for me, and having him take
over my dreams in that way - it didn't make the book better, but it
got the book started after it had been stalled for such a long time.
"Part of me was saying, 'I'm scared of this,' the other part
was saying, 'You're not going to get me down.'"
whole article is here.
TAIPEI TIMES BY MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Robert Hughes' dazzling new study of Goya not only conveys the
range and prescience of the artist's work with enormous acuity and
verve, but also conjures the world of 18th- and early 19th-century
Spain with vivid, pictorial ardor.
in fierce, tactile prose, Hughes jolts the reader into a visceral
appreciation of Goya's art, while at the same time situating Goya's
work against the historical backdrop of Spain's harrowing war with
Napoleon and the country's sufferings under a series of ineffectual
and backward rulers.
rest of the review is here.
AND MAIL ARTICLE BY GUY DIXON
His work is still startling today, particularly his Disasters
of War series of etchings, which depict scene after scene of brutal
killing and rape, the reality of the Napoleonic wars. Their power
is so immediate, that art critic and cultural writer Robert Hughes
in his new book Goya argues that photography, not traditional
fine art, is the true successor to Goya's visceral reportage.
art has practically nothing, or nothing of any value to say about
war, because it doesn't record the horrors of it, and it just hasn't
been able to deal with it," he said in an interview. More here.
YORK TIMES REVIEW BY MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Robert Hughes's dazzling new study of Goya not only conveys the
range and prescience of the artist's work with enormous acuity and
verve, but also conjures the world of 18th- and early 19th-century
Spain with vivid, pictorial ardor.
communicates the moral urgency of Goya's art and its remarkable eloquence
and scope: its determination to bear witness to the great historical
subjects of the day while tackling the full spectrum of folly and
joy and torment that is the human condition, an audacious ambition
sadly lacking in so much of contemporary art. More
of this here.
DAYS ARTIST JOURNAL
"Goya's works are disturbing, psychologically loaded, ambiguous
- far more modern in their complexity than images of our own time
which seldom even attempt to explore this realm of the psychological
complexities of the human condition." more here.
Brief mention of Hughes & the Goya book
ARTFUL CODGER It's been a disastrous few years for the world's
most famous art critic, Robert Hughes; he was nearly killed in a car
accident in the Australian outback, and his only son committed suicide.
But yesterday, in an uncomfortable chair at the Museum of Fine Arts,
the celebrated author of "The Shock of the New" was remarkably
at ease. (Hughes delivered a sold-out lecture at the MFA last night.)
The curmudgeon's contentment has everything to do with "Goya,"
a fat book he's finally finished after years of research and writing.
"It'll hit the street with a great muddy splash," Hughes
said. "But look, mate, being a famous art critic is a little
like being a famous beekeeper." That's not entirely true, at
least in his native Australia, where Hughes is an icon, as well known
as his countryman Russell Crowe. "I have vast admiration for
him," Hughes said, adding that the Gladiator would make a good
Goya... More at the Boston Globe website here.
ARTICLE PRIMARILY ON HUGHES here.
FINANCIAL TIMES INTERVIEW WITH HUGHES here
YORKER JOHN UPDIKE REVIEW
Among pre-modern artists whose reputations flourish in the present
day, Goya is unusual in that his content matters more than his painterly
technique. His cycle of etchings Los desastres de la guerra
is still viewed as an effectively shocking depiction of wars
horrors; the etchings called Caprichos and the late black
paintings done on the walls of his farmhouse outside Madrid win admiration
as uncanny incursions, with their witches and murky combats, into
the subconscious, anticipating Surrealism. More
"When Robert Hughes greets me at the door to his London hotel
room, with tousled hair and weather- beaten face, leaning on the stick
he has used since a near-fatal car accident in 1999, I am immediately
reminded of the first Goya drawing illustrated on page 22 of his new
book. The drawing was made near the end of the Spanish artist's life,
and shows an old man with a flowing beard, walking with the aid of
two sticks. Hughes's description sounds suspiciously like an ideal
self-portrait: [Goya] "was a tough, tenacious old bird, and he
had every right to make, towards the end, that inspiring drawing of
an ancient, bearded man, like Father Time himself, hobbling along
with the aid of two canes with the scrawled caption - 'I'm still learning'." More
"Mr Hughes loves Goya, not Goya myths. No, he tells us, the deaf
painter in his 50s was not the Duchess of Alba's lover. Nor do the
two famous Majas depict hershe was already mortally ill when
he began them. No, he was not a radical martyr. In 1803, he sold the
plates and 240 sets of the supposedly subversive Caprichos
to the Spanish crown. An enfeebled Inquisition did use one of its
last teeth to investigate him for obscenity but dropped the case as
being devoid of merit. During the anti-French resistance, Goya portrayed
willy-nilly Napoleon's officials, the victorious Wellington and restored
Bourbons. A liberal exile in Bordeaux after 1824, he nevertheless
won a pension for his long service to the Spanish court.
Hughes is not out to debunk Goya but to locate his genius." More
"We have made him a modernist ancestor. His influence, the inspiration
of his presence, the pressing need to reckon with him, lie behind
a surprising number of careers: much of Manet, for instance, depends
on Goya, just as much of the film imagery of Luis Buñuel does;
and you can't easily imagine Picasso or Beckmann without him. The
glaring electric light in Picasso's Guernica is nothing other than
the cubical lantern casting its pitiless radiance on the massacre
victims of Goya's Third of May . His genius for telling the truths
of suffering without false heroics has made him the patron saint of
every war photographer. The words he wrote on one plate of his great
series of etchings, Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War)
are still the declaration of every documentarian, every realist, every
artist who would be thought unflinching: Yo lo vi , "I saw it".
And these are balanced by their contrary, the title of another "Disaster":
No se puede mirar , "One cannot look at this".
aspects of Goya are remote from our ironised culture. We cannot believe
art can change the moral focus of the world. Goya did, and his intense
earnestness puts him at a remove from our world. He wanted to make
images that compel a moral understanding of ordinary and terrible
things. In this, he is unlike practically any artist now alive." More
Time Magazine biography.
1997 article "The People's Critic."
York Times Magazine "The Critic in Exile." 2001 article
on Hughes near-fatal car crash in Australia: "Robert Hughes's
pugnacious style made him a hero among his fellow Australians. Until
the car crash, that is. Now his refusal to back down may cost him
their good will - and even his freedom.".
Star 1997 Article "Aussie art bloke conquers Yanks: Meet
Robert Hughes, the world's greatest art critic," By Heather
Newspaper.com 2001 John McDonald article: "Robert Hughes,
an Australian tragedy." "One
of the worlds most famous and courageous art critics an Australian
by birth and in his sentiments, has goaded his home country into
rejecting him..." "...The next stage in Hughess
descent came with a trial in Broome in May, one year after the accident,
in which he had to defend himself against two counts of dangerous
driving. Much had been made of the fact that two of the occupants
in the oncoming car, Colin Bowe and Darren Kelly, had criminal records,
while the third, Darryn Bennett, had been trying to re-establish
his life in the wake of drug addiction. Shortly before the trial,
Bowe and Kelly rang Hughess solicitor and offered to change
their testimony in return for a $30,000 payment. The scheme was
exposed and both men charged with attempted extortion, further ruining
their credibility as witnesses.
In the subsequent trial, Bowe and Kelly were not called to testify,
and Hughes who had pleaded not guilty to the dangerous driving
charges was acquitted for lack of evidence. It was an extraordinarily
good result, but Hughes toasted his success by holding a press conference
on the steps of the courthouse, in which he referred to Bowe, Kelly
and Bennett as low-life scum. The extortion attempt
proved that they were dumb scum.
Artcyclopedia has a good, long list of Hughes articles (both about him and