Francisco Goya was felled by a mysterious illness in 1792. He didn’t die, he just fell. The illness made him dizzy and disoriented. Goya stumbled; he teetered. He was nauseous. Voices sounded in his head. He was frequently in terror. His hearing began to fail. Soon, he was completely deaf. By all accounts, he was temporarily insane at points. Then he recovered, though he would never regain his hearing.

“Goya and the Altamira Family” Through August 3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Before the illness, Goya had been a successful painter for the Spanish court. He was good, but unremarkable. After the illness, Goya became the extraordinary artist whose paintings — like The Third Of May 1808 — are among the most celebrated works in the history of art. In the late 1790s, Goya began working on a series of prints… More…

 

By the time Giorgio Morandi discovered himself as an artist he had reduced his universe to a handful of things. These were primarily bottles, tins, jugs, vases, and a few bowls. In a pinch, Morandi was perfectly happy with two tins and a vase. He would arrange the three things and then paint them. Generally he stuck to a muted palate: grays and beige, an overall preponderance of brown. Even when Morandi used brighter colors it still seemed like brown dressing up in drag for the occasion. His paintings do the opposite of pop. They simmer. They wait for you to come to them.

If Morandi painted his two tins and vase in an arrangement one day, he would move the vase a few inches and paint them anew the next. These minute transformations amazed Morandi. He didn’t… More…

One of the virtues of the current exhibit “The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is that you can see Rembrandt among his contemporaries. You can see the milieu he was working within and what was different and unique about him. One thing that is confirmed in this comparison is that, like no one else, Rembrandt is eyes. (This is a different point than that made by Simon Schama in his Rembrandt’s Eyes, but not necessarily an incompatible one). By eyes I mean the whole “eye area” — the brow, the lids, the entire fleshy region immediately surrounding and containing the eyes. Contrary to the popular saying, it is not just the eye that is the window to the soul. It is the aforementioned “eye area” that really does it. The wrinkles and furrows, the black bags, and the heavy lids — these are essential… More…