by Robert Hughes
The Gruesome Beauty of Goya
A review by Adrienne Miller
In 1999, art critic Robert Hughes was in a near-fatal car crash. While in intensive care, he had a particularly odd hallucination: that the Spanish painter Goya attached a metal brace to his leg and forced him to crawl through a metal detector. Terrible for Hughes. Good for us. That's because Hughes's obsession with Goya has produced a fiery new biography, Goya. "It may be," Hughes says in his book, "that the writer who does not know fear, despair, and pain cannot fully know Goya."
Goya, arguably the father of modern art, painted remarkable portraits and war scenes, the latter of which could be the most hideous depictions of human suffering ever produced. Hughes writes about these paintings in prose mercifully free of jargon. He is to art criticism what M. F. K. Fisher was to food writing and Pauline Kael was to movie criticism: a deeply passionate enthusiast. When looking at Goya's sexy masterpiece The Naked Maja, for instance, Hughes says he's filled with "inadequacy bordering on alarm." Goya is -- and I never thought I'd say this about an art biography -- an exhilarating read. After reading Goya, I flew to Madrid to see the paintings myself. I'm not kidding.
to Esquire and Save 75%
Get 12 fantastic issues of Esquire magazine
for only $8. The best culture, entertainment, style, financial advice, women
and more delivered right to your door every month ? at an incredible 81% savings
off the newsstand price! What could be better... or easier?
here to subscribe now!