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‘Goya’s War’ at the University Art Museum is a chilling and historic exhibition

The University Art Museum at the University Center for the Arts is hosting a compelling exhibition by renowned Spanish artist Francisco Goya Y Lucientes.

This collection of 80 etchings serves as Goya’s testament to the atrocities that took place throughout the French invasion of Spain in the 19th century.


“During that time there were no photos or media like we have today, so these etchings were it —  they were journalistic,” said Mike Solo, publicity and marketing manager for the school of music, theatre and dance.

Goya’s experiences during Napoleon’s invasion of Madrid included famine, hangings and many gruesome wartime scenarios. The prints, originally bound together in volumes, were only published after Goya’s death, most likely because he felt they would not be profitable.

Mike Solo, publicity and marketing manager for the department of music, theatre and dance stands with University Art Museum director, Linny Frickman
Mike Solo, publicity and marketing manager for the department of music, theatre and dance stands with University Art Museum Director Linny Frickman.

“As an artist, he is often referred to as a ‘pioneering modernist,’” said University Art Museum director Linny Frickman. “His attention towards the subjective and his imagination often turned to nightmare due to his experience.”

After losing his hearing in the late 18th century, Goya focused on his vision, chronicling the inhumanities of war through printmaking.

Printmaking is a meticulous process that includes etching images onto metal plates — in Goya’s case, on copper plates.  The process allows for printing multiples and developing work in various states.

“He is the consummate print maker,” Frickman said. “These pieces are examples of printmaking at its aesthetic highpoint.”

Before he died Goya gave his prints to his publisher, who then arranged and published them, although not necessarily in chronological order.

Goya scholar Janis A. Tomlinson used the size of the copper plates along with the artist’s subject matter and stylistic characteristics to track Goya’s evolving style and timeline.

“In some of the prints the plates are much smaller, indicating that there was perhaps an economic crisis resulting in scarcity of copper,” Frickman said.


Thus Tomlinson closely examined certain stylistic details to re-organize the prints in a more accurate chronological order.

“We’re really lucky to have this collection here — a large part of why we can is because of our infrastructure at the museum,” Solo said.

Colorado State University’s art museum is able to borrow such iconic works because it is equipped with climate control, security, insurance and bulbs adjustable for light-sensitive pieces, aspects required by the organizing museum, Pomona College.

The UCA museum will be expanding to include five new galleries and a sculpture garden, with construction starting in spring 2015.

“The current museum location used to be the old Fort Collins High School’s cafeteria, so the ceilings are low,” Frickman said. “I’m really excited for the new addition, because the ceilings will be much higher and more spacious.”

The art museum will be closed sometime in spring 2015, and will re-open fall semester 2016.

“We really want people to take advantage of the museum and the fact that we are exhibiting Goya,” Solo said.

This unique and historic exhibition will be available, free and open to the public, until March 28. The museum is open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Collegian A&E Writer Caitlyn Berman can be reached at or on twitter @CaitlynBerman.

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