MFA displays work of Spanish master in new exhibit

The Museum of Fine Arts unveiled to the public a one-of-a-kind exhibit last Sunday, featuring selected works by Spanish artist Francisco Goya.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like it in Boston before,” said Malcom Rogers, director of the MFA.

The exhibit, which is the largest collection of Goya’s works to be showcased in North America in 25 years, features 170 paintings, prints, and drawings. Many of the works are loans from museums across the globe including The Louvre, The Met, and several private Spanish collections. The museum has also partnered with the Museo Nacional Del Prado, the Spanish National Art Museum, in order to attain a vast array of works for the exhibit. The exhibit also highlights the museum’s private collection of drawings that have not been displayed for the public since the 1980s.

Courtesy of MFA

“Goya is for everyone and all times,” said Stephanie Stepanek, co-curator of the exhibit. Stepanek, who has spent the majority of her career studying Goya, decided to arrange the exhibit in themes, rather than to display pieces in a chronological order.

“I thought it was time to look at the whole artist,” she said.

The exhibit is comprised of seven rooms, each showcasing pieces of various mediums, with subjects revolving around a central theme. “We really tried to integrate the three mediums as closely as possible,” said Frederick Ilchman, co-curator of the exhibit.

The themes include self-portraits and portraiture of various figures of power, dreams and death, religious figures, and still life. Several of the rooms display Goya’s famous representation of all varieties of life, from young to old. In addition to his paintings of young and old prominent figures, he also presented life studies in various ink drawings, many of which are a part of the MFA’s private collection.

“Goya belongs in that small category of artists that seem to have boundless creativity and would channel in the correct medium, depending on his inclinations,” said Ilckman.

Courtesy of MFA

In addition to being known for his incredible portraits, Goya is also known for his macabre and grisly works. Displayed against deep purple walls are oil-paintings of wild witch hunts and demons, as well as ink drawings of gruesome torture scenes and dismembered corpses.

Although these dark depictions proved to be the most shocking in the exhibit, the heart of the exhibit lies within two pieces displayed in the room titled, “In the balance.” The thematic display of the exhibit was inspired by these two pieces that Stepanek claims, “encompass everything there is to know about Goya.”

The pieces, which depict figures on skates, are representative of Goya’s fascination with, “equivocating lunacy with a lack of balance,” said Ilckaman.

The MFA will be hosting a Halloween themed college night on Thursday, Oct. 30 with the exhibit. “I remember as a student how I simply loved Goya,” said Rogers. The exhibit will be on display until January 2015.