Paintings and photos

Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya -The third of May, 1808

Napoleon occupied Spain in 1808, a lot of Spaniards, including the Romanticist Goya, hoped that the French would bring in a number of liberal reforms that they felt their country was sorely in need of. Instead the French were barbaric, and the Spanish resisted their brutality with an equally vicious resistance movement. After this Goya, now very bitter at the whole experience focused his work on what he perceived to be political tyranny. This piece, created in 1814 is called The third of May, 1808. It shows the execution of a group of rioters who had rebelled against the French. He portrays his people as martyrs, like many religious paintings that influenced his style of work, and in so doing of course the French, take on the role of the minions of the devil. It is interesting to note that images like this continue to appear throughout history, in much the same way as Goya has shown it here. As though Goya was also prophetic in creating what would become a terrifying symbol of our era.

Eddie Adams, Street execution of a Viet Cong prisoner, Saigon
TITLE:  Street execution of a Viet Cong prisoner, Saigon
ARTIST:  Eddie Adams
WORK DATE:  1968

Which are the stories behind these two pictures?

Is there any relationship between the painted picture of Goya and the photo of Eddie Adams?

Colonel Loan of the South Vietnamese police shoots dead a Vietcong suspect in a checked shirt. The photograph shows the exact moment at which the colonel bullet entered the man’s head, and was taken  during a minor skirmish in the Chinese section of  Saigon. Loan explained himself to Adams by saying, “They kill many of my men and of your people.” Adams took the picture almost as a reflex action, but it quickly became the most famous image from the Vietnam war. Oz, the London satirical magazine, reprinted it later in 1968 with caption “The Great Society blows another mind” (“The Great Society” was President Johnson’s motto for the USA). Colonel Loan was badly wounded during the war and afterwards opened a pizza parlour in Virginia, but he never shook off his notoriety. Before the war which irrevocably made his name, Adams was already an experienced photographer of fashion, entertainment , sport and politics.

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