Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo at Brooklyn Museum, September 8, 2017 – January 7, 2018

Photographs by Corrado Serra.

Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo combines the work of three artists across two continents and four centuries, offering insight into the creative energy and artistic innovation with which they reimagined the complex social, cultural, and political issues of their times. Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya (1746–1828), Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948), and contemporary American artist Robert Longo (born 1953) consciously reflect on the profound repercussions of revolution, war, and civil unrest.

This exhibition was conceived by Kate Fowle, chief curator at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, who invited Longo to collaborate as co-curator. Longo has described the project as a study of how he and these earlier artists, both of whom have influenced his work, represent important historical events while introducing political drama, emotional intensity, and visual symbolism. When the artists’ black-and-white works—Goya’s etchings, Eisenstein’s 35 millimeter films, and Longo’s charcoal drawings—are seen together, common threads emerge both formally and thematically.

The works on view also offer uniquely personal perspectives; chronicling is rarely impartial. Proof therefore explores the problematic ways that historical evidence can be used within visual storytelling, and at an especially contentious time, as the line between reality and fiction blurs—think of “reality” television and recent outcries over “fake news.” It signals the enduring importance of bearing witness while interrogating how we witness, and to what end.

Today, at a time of intense debate about the role of the artist—and museums—in raising serious social and political issues and effecting change, Proof demonstrates art’s power to encourage viewers to carefully consider important pictures and histories. As the exhibition title suggests, Goya, Eisenstein, and Longo together provide proof—or evidence—not only of certain facts, but also of how art invites us to see in new ways.” — Introductory Wall Text

Sergei Eisenstein (Russian, 1898–1948)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828)

Robert Longo (American, born 1953)

The exhibition is curated by Robert Longo in collaboration with Kate Fowle, Chief Curator, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. The Brooklyn presentation is organized by Sara Softness, Assistant Curator, Special Projects, Brooklyn Museum.