In The Crazy Cannibal, Antonio García Villarán creates a conversation between two of the most prolific Spanish Old Master: Francisco Goya and Diego Velázquez. The base for his NFT creation was inspired by Goya’s celebrated artwork Saturn Devouring His Son. The intersecting piece is Velázquez’s self portrait from Las Meninas. I had the pleasure of seeing both works at the Prado Museum in Madrid this past June.
Goya’s haunting image depicts the Titan Saturn eating one of his children. The Roman myth explains that Terra, the personification of the Earth, predicted that one of the sons of Saturn would overthrow him, as Saturn similarly had overthrown his father. Upon hearing this prophecy, Saturn decides to murder each of his children by devouring them after birth. The painting was likely inspired by Goya’s personal thoughts and commentary on the Spanish state’s violent handling of its citizens during the Inquisition.
García Villarán reframes the work to deliver a new message. He asks the viewer to think about the relationship of the creator to his status and to ponder the legacy that artists leave behind. Is this emphasized or threatened by past and future successors in the art world? García Villarán encourages this discourse by intersecting his version of Goya’s masterpiece with Diego Velázquez’s self-portrait from Las Meninas. These two works were completed by two of the most celebrated Spanish artists but both employ very different techniques within their art.
Las Meninas’ focal point centers on the Infanta Margaret Theresa as a young child in an interior scene with many attendants. On the far left of the composition, Velázquez includes a self-portrait in front of a monumental canvas that he is actively working on. In the background, you see a dark but sophisticated room of the Royal Alcázar of Madrid. The room features salon-style hung art on the walls, quietly reminding the viewer the importance of art and collecting while also calling attention to the wealth of the royal family.