Blogpost: Goya and Brutal Aesthetics (Princeton Univ. Press)

Posted by T • February 10, 2021

Posted by T • February 10, 2021

Goya: A Portrait of the Artist

Janis Tomlinson

Princeton University Press


Claiming that coverage on the life and times of Francisco Goya has been patchy – at least outside the confines of the Spanish language, would be an understatement par excellence. It was about time for an in-depth biography, which Goya scholar Janis Tomlinson now provides.

Given Tomlinson’s expertise on the subject, it is intriguing to read how traditional notions and interpretations of Francisco Goya y Lucientes’s oeuvre are not only being challenged but counterpointed and debunked via an exhaustive array of hard facts, personal letters, court documents and previously unseen early sketches of Goya.

Tomlinson masterfully centres Goya and contextualises his artistic emissions around the upheavals that came with the age of transformation and instability of Spanish society and politics.

The result is a nuanced portrayal of an artist that contrary to popular belief is much less that of desolate, depressed soul infatuated with darkness and death, but one that has many facts all of which are powered by his ambition for invention, change and pushing the boundaries.

Sharing meticulously researched insights, Tomlinson’s critical thinking never results in an overly authoritative style but manages to trigger one to revisit his oeuvre with fresh eyes and reinforces the appreciation for Goya’s art, which has lost none of its impact and is as relevant as ever two centuries after his departure.



Brutal Aesthetics

Hal Foster

Princeton University Press


Given the barbarism of the first half of the twentieth century, i.e. the devastation and aftermath of World War II, the Holocaust, genocide as well as nuclear warfare and its implications, many not only turned to religion but the question that was raised within artistic circles was how art can help to navigate through such unprecedented turbulent times.

The outcome is a stream of modern art that can be referred to as  “brutal aesthetics” , which in essence is an artistic equivalent to the circumstances.

By approaching the topic from different angles, i.e. through the lens of the philosopher Georges Bataille, the painters Jean Dubuffet and Asger Jorn, and the sculptors Eduardo Paolozzi and Claes Oldenburg, Foster sets out to decipher art, define its very core and look for its essence to rise from the ashes.

The result is an immensely interesting study of historical and contemporary artistic practices, with often surprising recurring commonalities as far as themes and stylists devices are concerned, which sheds light on the directions artistic endeavour took from 1945 onwards and what role subversive, positive barbarism and creative destructivism played.

Specifically the section shedding light on how some artists masterfully manipulated art to not only invalidate the brut but being ambiguous to expose the culprits.

Foster manages to only highlight the merits of such manoeuvres but also unearths contradictions and artists whose undertakings (and the possible implications and reception thereof) were not thoroughly thought through.

T • February 10, 2021

More recent blogposts

Search/Play/Repeat - July 2021

Posted by Loren • July 31, 2021

We cover a lot at Scene Point Blank. It's part of the job, but first and foremost we're music fans. While we talk a lot of new releases in the news/reviews/interviews, music is timeless and we need a way to share it. Plus, I just love a good mixtape and want to share stuff. While Aaron typically covers Search/Play/Repeat and … Read more

Thus Let Us Drink Beer – 7th Day and Shedshaker

Posted by T • July 31, 2021

Thus Let Us Drink Beer – 7th Day Brewing and Shedshaker   The story of 7th Day Brewing is one that could not be more DIY in nature as it all goes back to founder Mike Beresford Jones trying his hand in homebrewing in a bid to create the kind of brews he could not find anywhere, the fruits of … Read more

The Formative Years - Rich Kids on LSD

Posted by T • July 31, 2021

The Formative Years - Rich Kids on LSD When I first got a hold of Burkhard Jaerisch’s Flex US Hardcore Discography long before the advent of the internet, I not only devoured it but set out to get my paws on all records that were deemed worthy of a 10 / 10 rating.  While I did not necessarily agree with … Read more

Reckless Brewing and Moo Brew’s Gin Boilermaker

Posted by T • July 29, 2021

Thus Let Us Drink Beer – Reckless Brewing and Moo Brew’s Gin Boilermaker   Having honed and refined channelling her alchemy in the creation of craft beers, the quality of which has left an indelible mark on the firmament of Australian craft brews, Reckless Brewing’s co-founder Grace has and continue to contribute to shaping the DNA of one of the … Read more

Beethoven and Wagner vs Nietzsche

Posted by T • July 26, 2021

Beethoven: A life University of California Press   There is no shortage of books dedicated to the life of a composer whose legacy has never ceased to reverberate and impact music at large. Released to commemorate the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of his birth, what sets this biography apart in terms of authority is partly due to the unprecedented access … Read more

Water of Life – Limeburners and Earp Distillery

Posted by T • July 25, 2021

Water of Life – Limeburners and Earp Distillery   Over the last ten years, Australia has firmly established itself on the map of nations that produce quality malt whiskies. Slowly but steadily, rye whiskies created on terra australis have been making a splash on the scene with quite a few distilleries crafting their own incarnations of American style rye whiskey. … Read more

The Formative Years – Rugby and Canterbury

Posted by T • July 24, 2021

The Formative Years – Rugby and Canterbury I’ve covered the mecca that Washington DC proved to be as a hotbed for hardcore and punk as part of this series before, however, missed to shed light onto one of my favourite releases from the 1980s era, i.e. the vitally important split LP of the short-lived bands The Faith and Void.  While … Read more

The Formative Years – Hardcore Classics, pt. 1

Posted by T • July 23, 2021

The Formative Years – Hardcore classics pt. 1   With ZAP magazine playing a pivotal role in promoting and covering everything New York Hardcore related in a pro-active and prominent manner, Europe and specifically Germany have always been prime markets for hardcore emanating from the Big Apple.  The result was that “NYHC” became a veritable label and trademark and almost … Read more

The Formative Years - Ebullition Records

Posted by T • July 22, 2021

The Formative Years - Ebullition Records  The first time I heard about Ebullition Records was when there was talk around the campfire of that a gentleman that was known to me as a Maximum Rock’n’roll / No Answer zine contributor, i.e. Kent McClard, was planning to release a full length of one of my favourite bands from Orange County, California, … Read more

Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Holgate and Six String

Posted by T • July 18, 2021

Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Holgate Brewhouse and Six String Brewing   As we have outlined with our previous coverage of Holgate Brewhouse, over the last twenty years the Victorian brewery has established itself firmly on the forefront of innovative quality producers of ales that honour both the classic styles from the old world and the ever expanding and … Read more