Dali Takes on Goya in Los Caprichos Exhibition at the Centro Cultural Español

Collaborations are all the rage these days. Taking a page from the burgeoning tech culture, artists are increasingly working on group projects in an attempt to  mutually boost their exposure, gain recognition, or simply learn from the experience of working closely with a colleague. This weekend the Centro Cultural Español (CCE) premiered a joint exhibit of rare prints by two masters of Spanish painting. Despite their shared Spanish heritage, these artists were separated by a couple of centuries.

"Los Caprichos Dali-Goya" features original prints by Francisco Goya, produced sometime around 1799, and Salvador Dali's scandalous re-imagining of Goya's work from the mid-to-late 1970s.

"We're really proud to bring this exhibit to Miami," Francisco Tardio, director of the CCE Miami, says. The exhibition is mid-sized and features 40 prints: 24 by Dali, and 16 by Goya.

Dali chose to undertake the task of re-imagining the work of the late master in 1973, for an exhibition held at the Goya Museum in Castres, France in August of 1977. It was a pivotal time for Spain, the cultural restrictions of Franco's brutal dictatorship were beginning to loosen. In its place, a more relaxed constitutional monarchy was installed, and exiled Spanish artists were beginning to flock back to their homeland. The once banned artists were delving into a society that was largely closed-off from much of the rest of the West during the decades-long regime.  

Goya's original Los Caprichos was produced in a similar political climate. His drawings were meant to tackle the decaying Spanish empire under Charles IV. The once mighty Spain was under siege from the rest of the European powers, eager to join their southern neighbor in the colonial game. Plagued by a series of inept leaders the nation's military, economic, and moral prowess were in question. The country's dwindling international influenced mirrored an internal decay of a society marked by religiosity and cultural isolation. 

Though both painters are emblematic of a staunchly Spanish style of art, they couldn't be more different. Like two miners, working on opposite sides of the same mountain, Dali and Goya both worked to unpack aspects of the Spanish collective unconscious. Several themes run through both of their work including: quotidian country life, Catholic- pagan iconography, repressed sexuality. Yet their aesthetic sensibilities are in stark contrast. 

The stylistic choice marks Dali's attempt at wrestling with new ideas floating around French philosophy in the latter half of the twentieth century, including post-structuralism, and self-reference. It's an established artist trying to reconcile a style he's championed with the new spirit of the age–  post-modern sensibilities that pop, and conceptual artist would make de rigueur in art. 

Los Caprichos Dali-Goya is currently on view at the Centro Cultural Español through October 30, thanks to US Century Bank. Gallery hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, closed on weekends. For more information regarding special events, make sure to visit their website, or contact them by phone at 305-448-9677.
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Neil Vazquez is an arts and entertainment writer who works at the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow A Miami native and Northwestern University graduate, he usually can be found sipping overpriced coffee, walking his golden retriever, or doing yoga.
Contact: Neil Vazquez