Well, here it is the first Sunday in October. Seems like it might be good to welcome this most frightening of months in with a post about Francis Bacon. Love his artwork or hate it, it is hard to ignore once you’ve seen it.
There was a time in my life, when the world seemed much more horrible than it really is, that my eyes sought out and devoured Francis Bacon’s work. Don’t get me wrong, even though I still think the world is pretty damn horrible, there is a lot of beauty here too. But that’s not what Bacon painted, we aren’t meant to feel at ease or comfortable when looking at his work.
Throughout his career, Francis Bacon painted an interesting mix of abstract and representational form. The subject was often hanging sides of beef, screaming Popes and monkeys, and crime scene splatter. It was Bacon’s 1944 painting called “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion” that made him well known and would lay the foundation for the rest of his paintings and career. He would go back and explore the crucifixion time and again, saying it is a fine example of how people tend to treat one another.
Bacon went on to do a number of self portraits and portraits of his friends, and these are some of my favorite pieces by him. He also did some paintings of Van Gogh that I am very fond of.
Bacon’s work is meant to be troubling. Like it or hate it, the artwork acomplishes just that, treating the world as a violent and brutal place, and human beings as meat. That isn’t a comforting world view. But sometimes, all too often in fact, that is exactly what this world is like.
“I enjoy life but I have absolutely no belief in anything, I don’t say that anguish doesn’t play a part in my work. The very fact that you exist, that you see what’s going on around you, that must create anguish in anybody. I have a feeling of mortality all the time because if life excites you, its opposite, death, like a shadow, must excite you.” – Francis Bacon