I/Eye: On Photography

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”.