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Review: 'Cryptic' clearly connects Goya and modern works

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 7, 2011 - "Cryptic: the Use of Allegory in Contemporary Art with a Master Class from Goya" at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is a nicely wrought exhibition, forging connections between the despairing, black humor of Goya's prints and the work of contemporary artists who share his sensibility.

On view are prints from Los Caprichos (1797-98) and Los Disparates(1815-23), the series of etchings done toward the end of Goya's life, as he suffered equal parts ill health and rank pessimism toward his fellow human beings.

The prints are technically unparalleled, atmospheric and expressive; and they present devastating critiques of human folly.

The contemporary artists, including Folkert de Jong, Hiraki Sawa, Allison Schulnik, Dana Schutz, Javier Tellez and Erika Wanenmacher, engage to varying degrees with Goya's own approach, but all the works offer the chance to reflect on allegories, their rich rhetorical expressions and their potential for criticality.

When: Through Aug. 14

Where: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Blvd.

Information: 314-535-4660, www.camstl.org

Ivy Cooper, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is the Beacon art critic.

Ivy Cooper
Ivy Cooper is the Beacon visual arts reviewer and a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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