I Saw It: Francisco de Goya, Printmaker

I Saw It: Francisco de Goya, Printmaker presents the Spanish artist’s four major print series in their entirety: Caprichos (1799), Desastres de la Guerra (c. 1810–15), La Tauromaquia (1815–16) and Los Disparates (c. 1815–23). Select impressions from trial and working proofs, as well as hand-colored and later editions, offer insights into the artist’s creative process and the full range of his expressive capacity in a variety of print techniques. This is the first comprehensive installation of Goya’s iconic suites on the West Coast, and it is drawn exclusively from the renowned collection of this material in the Norton Simon Museum.

The exhibition’s title—in Spanish, Yo lo vi—derives from Goya’s own inscriptions for two of his prints. In the literal sense, it conveys Goya’s engagement with printmaking as a way in which to chronicle and remark on the history and culture of his country and his relationship to it. Figuratively, the title acknowledges the artist as a visionary and as an inventor of caprices, in which his satirical and even strange images capture attention and appeal to the viewer’s emotions.

In witty, haunting and often raw narratives, Goya critiqued the abuse of power, both religious and political, his country’s prejudices and superstitions and the brutality of war. His complicated and sometimes baffling imagery is explored in separate sections that highlight the fantasy, invention and compassion that characterize his subjects, as well as his artistry in etching and aquatint. These areas are punctuated with related works by modern and contemporary artists, including Leon Golub, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, who, like Goya, felt compelled to address injustice and suffering in their art.