Great Art: Ya van Desplumados by Francisco Goya
Francisco Goya is one of my favorite artists. His work is endlessly interesting to me; his style is expressive and the content is often highly original and imaginative. One of the recurring themes in his oeuvre is the relationship between men and women.
Goya was constantly interested in exploring human interactions and the way society treats certain individuals. Ya van Desplumados (which translates to There they go plucked) is an example of this aspect of his work. The print comes from the Los Caprichos series, a series of etchings that depict the social ills of contemporary Spanish culture.
Ya van Desplumados depicts a group of prostitutes beating plucked birds with human heads with brooms. The birds represent the women’s clients. The implication is that they have “plucked” the men, stealing their money and possessions. Here, the women are portrayed as predators, preying on inexperienced and naive men.
However, Goya is also aware that there is another side of this issue. The Los Caprichos series also includes a print entitled ¡Qual la descañonan!, in which magistrates abuse a prostitute that they’ve arrested.
Power is what’s at issue in Ya van Desplumados. Goya’s aim is to highlight situations in which individuals abuse the power or influence they have over others. Goya points out that societal relations are complex; a person can abuse certain situations while also being victimized by other systems of power.
Like many of the prints from the Caprichos series, the print is rather fantastical. The visual pun is ingenious and entertaining. Goya’s compositional choices and use of light and shadow heighten the message of the print and add an extra degree of visual drama.
Originally published at https://artisthesolution.blogspot.com on June 6, 2020.