“Until death (Hasta la muerte),” 1799, from Goya’s Los Caprichos. The central figure tries a
new headpiece on for the celebration of her 75th birthday while her maid and two
young men—presumably her self-proclaimed admirers—sneer secretly. She
is identified as a vain old woman or a representation of death itself
by Ann Fox
Photos: A. Fox unless stated otherwise
After fourteen months of thinking of Manhattan as distant exotica, it was time to stop hugging trees, make the one hour trip and take in some culture. Over twenty-five percent of us are vaccinated and many Covid regulations have been lifted. There was a Goya exhibit at The Met, not that pasty-faced royals, jaunty-chested Majas or partisans being shot at close range would lift my spirits, but at least I would feel a connection to my beloved España.
The train car had only three other people in it, but I suspected all of them to be potential “carriers.” Perhaps too much pandemic bingeing on British detective series. I squealed on the man down the aisle who had his mask pulled under his nose, a violation that could lock him up in some rural (but charming) British jail for at least ten years. The conductor didn’t seem to care. After arriving at Penn Station, I tightened my mask and clutched my purse in preparation for the next hurdle – the subway. It was almost deserted and surprisingly clean. I decided to walk from the West Side to the East Side through Central Park. It was bucolic. Birds chirped, kids biked, families strolled. This was turning out to be pleasant.
I had a timed entry into The Met, which seemed unnecessary considering the paucity of public. Gone were the benches, information people and paper brochures. Although the coatroom and water fountains were closed off, and dining was limited to a cafeteria, the artwork was unusually accessible. Imagine viewing a Van Gogh sunflower without hundreds of tourists in front of you taking selfies!
I made my way to “Goya’s Graphic Imagination.” To my delight, the royals, majas and partisans all remained in the Prado. This exhibit consisted mostly of The Met’s more upbeat collection of his drawings and etchings. It was obvious what a superb chronicler of his time Goya was. During his long life, he made over 900 drawings and hundreds of prints which centered on human foibles, as well as politics and history.
This show was light on politics, which was welcome. I was drawn to the benignly bizarre: the musician tossed by a bull, the old woman looking aghast in the mirror, a nun being frightened by a ghost playing a guitar, men flying with strapped-on wings and bird helmets.
After a breathtaking exhibit, it was time to grab something to eat at the cafeteria. The menu at the entrance promised “Goya inspired dishes” so things looked up. Now how is it that they came up with pan con tomate from Catalunya and paella from Valencia to represent a man who was born in Aragon and lived in Madrid? I expected cocido and a glass of rioja. Well, the dining spot had just re-opened. They had no time to fine-tune the menu. No se ganó Zamora en una hora.
After The Met, I wandered back to Penn, this time all on foot. Cherry blossoms were out in Central Park. Some green buds were visible on the trees by Columbus Circle. Once on Eighth Avenue economic reality set in. The theater district was shut down as were the little corner grab ‘n go coffee shops. My favorite fixed-price pre-theater Spanish restaurant was shuttered. No commuters raced toward the Port Authority bus station. Parts of Penn Station were off-limits for repairs, impossible when the passenger traffic is at peak. I thought how Goya would have relished chronicling the Covid vibe. Unfortunately, they’d make him quarantine first. The entire trip was worry-free. Perhaps it’s time to see how José Andres’ Little Spain Market is doing!
Image (Pan con tomate)/Ewan Munro via Flickr, CC BY-SA2.0
Texts, prints, photos and other illustrative materials depicted in GUIDEPOST have been either contributed by the authors of each published work or, to the Magazine’s good-faith knowledge, are in the public domain or otherwise benefit from the allowances of Articles 9(2), 10, 10(bis), and applicable others of the Berne Convention for the Protection of literary and artistic works.