I/Eye: On Photography

A short video about the *Caprichos* project

Posted in Los Caprichos, platinum palladium by Sheila Newbery on January 24, 2018

I’ve posted a short video about the Caprichos project (below).  In it, I explain a little about the platinum palladium process and the genesis of the series — and what in fact a capricho is. You can also read a short project statement here.


From “Los Caprichos”: Oculta las costuras

Posted in Los Caprichos, platinum palladium, Uncategorized by Sheila Newbery on September 22, 2017
From the series *Los caprichos: after Goya*: "Oculta las costuras" (She hides the seams.)

From the series Los Caprichos: after Goya: “Oculta las costuras” (She hides the seams.) The Caprichos are a series of 80 platinum palladium prints made from photos of moving footage shot from a computer screen. The prints are inspired by Goya’s album of the same name, published in 1799.


Even in this headless state, this “she” is already ready: she’s the embodiment of modern advances in “plastic surgery”.  The position of her feet and legs, though, connect her to the past and to Goya’s imagery of women.

Eleanor Sayre, the Goya scholar, left us a clear picture of the iconography of women in Los Caprichos (of 1799): you could tell what a woman was by the position of the feet, legs and hips (though a witless fop might be duped  irrespective of the use of a powerful monocle, such as that employed in plate 7, Ni asi la distingue).  A wide stance, with toes turned out, was indicative to the reader — and there were many women with turned-out toes in the original series. Why is that?

Sayre speculated that it had to do with with the scourge of  venereal disease in the urban centers of 18th-century Spain, a result of the deregulation of prostitution under Phillip IV in 1623, when women were forced out onto the street to ply their trade without the benefit of reliable shelter or medical attention. By the time of Goya’s Caprichos, published at the very end of the eighteenth century, it’s easy to see why people would think it was the women who were to blame. The sex dolls in this Capricho are at any rate immune…






Dahlia and apples

Posted in Still life by Sheila Newbery on September 14, 2017

A still life with dahlia, apples, and painted cardboard surfaces. Shot on Fuji instant film. The wavy effect is achieved not by photoshopping, but by interposing a layer of glass between subject and lens. Any movement of the lens in relation to the subject produces a different image — slightly different patterns of distortion, that is. Composing can be a little tricky for this reason.

Red dahlia

Red dahlia with apples (2016).

Los Caprichos: “Hasta la muerte”

Posted in Uncategorized by Sheila Newbery on September 12, 2017
Hasta la muerte

Hasta la muerte (Until death), from the series *Los Caprichos: after Goya*.


Goya had a wicked sense of humor.  His Caprichos are full of puns and double-entendres, and though their subject-matter is dark, many of them are funny, too. Sometimes they included figures that people would recognize. In my own Caprichos, I spoofed the famous figure in the image above by paralleling him with Goya’s print of the same title, “Hasta la muerte”, which translates as “Unto death” (see below). Goya’s image is about an old woman’s vanity: she dwells on her own image in the mirror but doesn’t notice those who laugh at her futile preening. The original print, then, is also a mirror for Mick, whose  youthful declaration that he couldn’t picture himself singing “Satisfaction” at 45 has been amazingly transcended by a scrupulous burnishing of self-image well into the “golden years”. I’m sure he’d get a kick out of the parallel.


Hasta la muerte

Hasta la muerte, from Goya’s 1799 album “Los Caprichos”.

*Los Caprichos* in Oakland: creating a pop-up exhibition

Posted in exhibitions, Los Caprichos, platinum palladium by Sheila Newbery on August 17, 2017

Dawn McGuire (right) and I during a Q&A. (Photo: Hanneke van Proosdij.)

Sometimes you have to get creative when it comes to organizing a show. Poet Dawn McGuire and I decided to put together a “pop-up” show in the East Bay a couple of months ago. Our idea was to have a viewing of 30 palladium prints from my book project Los Caprichos, followed by a reading from Dawn’s new collection American Dream with Exit Wound. We were both drawn to an event that would combine literary and visual arts, and thought our work dovetailed well for this purpose. The whole thing would last only a few hours and would be packed up and put away at the end of the show. The question was where to do it.

I had a number of ideas about location, and felt optimistic at first about being able to find a place even though the Bay Area is notoriously short on supply of cheap exhibition space. But when none of my ideas panned out, we were back to square one. Then Dawn approached the owner of a body shop in Oakland. She (the owner) was game! And when I saw her space, my jaw dropped.  It was gorgeous.

Of course our pop-up audience thought we’d somehow managed to wrangle a commercial gallery (the body shop was better looking than many galleries I’ve seen). When I told visitors that we were in a body shop, they were dumbfounded: “You mean they really fix cars here?” Yep. They do.

It was a great place to mount a show. The strategy was to keep it simple:  we arranged the tables in a basic formation and “installed” the prints on upraised pieces of chipboard, covered by a pearl gray printmaking stock (Stonehenge paper). The tilt was achieved by placing 2” diameter styrofoam balls under the upper corners of the chipboard. The pearl gray stock was laid flat on the board, and the prints were placed on top of that. The prints were “anchored” with gravity (and inertia), though we’d brought magnets in case a firmer attachment was needed. Viewers could wander freely among the tables.

Here’s a photo taken as we were setting up. That’s Dawn at the far right looking at the prints. The nice thing about the space is that it’s open to the street, so people could just wander in off the sidewalk to take a look.

Artist Ana Quintanilla helped with the installation and kicked off the show by reading a prose-poem about the Caprichos, written by her father, the artist and critic Raúl Quintanilla.

You can read  a description of the Caprichos project here.

*Los Caprichos* pop-up show

Here’s what our pop-up installation looked like.


“In the eye of things”: popup show & reading with poet Dawn McGuire

Posted in Los Caprichos, News by Sheila Newbery on August 3, 2017


Uptown Body & Fender

401 26th Street, Oakland, CA
Saturday, August 12, 2017, 3–5 pm


a pop-up print show & poetry reading


Dawn McGuire (poems)  ::  Sheila Newbery (photographs)

Dawn McGuire’s book American Dream with Exit Wound has just been released
by IFSF Publishing, San Francisco, and is available from Small Press Distribution
in Berkeley (www.spdbooks.org).

Sheila Newbery’s Los Caprichos is a collection of 80 palladium prints inspired
by Francisco Goya’s well known album of satirical aquatint etchings, published
in 1799.

This event is made possible by the generosity of Giovanna Tanzillo,
owner of Uptown Body & Fender. It is wheelchair accessible.

contact: sheila [AT] sheilanewbery [DOT] com




Los Caprichos: Mucho hay que chupar

Posted in Uncategorized by Sheila Newbery on July 23, 2017



“Mucho hay que chupar” (There is much to suck), palladium print on Arches Platine paper, 2017.

An image from the series Los Caprichos: after Goya, a book project inspired by the satirical 18th-century album of the same name.

Caprichos means literally: whims. Images from this series are photographed from video source and printed using the platinum-palladium method. In keeping with the original’s mordant titles, I’ve given each image a caption — in Spanish.

Though this one is a direct quote from one of Goya’s captions, the image takes the viewer to a context very different from its eighteenth-century counterpart. The artist Enrique Chagoya also adapted the Caprichos: his approach was to copy Goya’s imagery making strategic alterations. In his version of the print that bears this caption, he makes the artist’s theme more explicit. You can see his print in the collection of MOMA.

From “Los Caprichos: after Goya”: O te hundes o sales a flote (“Sink or swim”)

Posted in Los Caprichos, Uncategorized by Sheila Newbery on June 3, 2017
"O te hundes o sales a flote" ("Sink or swim"), from "Los Caprichos: after Goya"

“O te hundes o sales a flote” (“Sink or swim”), from the series of platinum palladium prints Los Caprichos: after Goya.


In late 2017, my first complete set of Caprichos will become part of the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. This means they will live under the same roof as a set of Goya’s eighteenth-century originals. This would have seemed like a guarantee of permanence (and a flattering proximity) even a decade ago. But libraries are fragile things; they burn, they’re looted, they’re lost in political chaos.

Today is the day after  President Trump announced the US’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, which many governments labored to construct under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

An analysis of the political and legal repercussions for His Highness (and us) of His Highness’ Colossal Climate Tantrum can be read at the LawFare blog, in a post by David Wirth. Take what heart from it you can.

Homage to Diebenkorn

Posted in Uncategorized by Sheila Newbery on September 23, 2015
Homage to Diebenkorn. 2015

Homage to Diebenkorn. 2015

Brad Boca at Candela Fine Art has been doing beautiful drum scans of the still life work I shot during the summer months when it’s too hot to print (with the temperatures soaring into the mid-nineties in the platinum palladium room). Here’s a sample. I work on a combination of instant film and color transparency. The instant film is for proofing the composition and lighting. The color transparency is for the “final” image and is the medium that gets drum-scanned.

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Aprenda a tragar (“Learn to swallow” from Los Caprichos)

Posted in Los Caprichos by Sheila Newbery on October 1, 2014
"Learn to swallow" (from *Los Caprichos*, platinum palladium print, 2014) by Sheila Newbery

“Learn to swallow” (from *Los Caprichos*, platinum palladium print, 2014) by Sheila Newbery

Platinum-palladium prints from Los Caprichos: after Goya, an artist’s book inspired by an eighteenth-century masterpiece of the same name: Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes’ album of eighty satirical aquatints, published in 1799.

Los Caprichos means literally: whims. The images are photographed from video source and printed in platinum-palladium. In keeping with the original’s mordant and pun-laden commentary, each of the images is printed with a caption — in Spanish.