Saturday, May 30, 2009

Francis Bacon

My love of the work of Irish painter Francis Bacon has even frightened me on occasion. For much of college I had posters of his work on my walls, which lead to more than one conversation with people about how I could sleep with "it watching me".

I got to see a lot of his stuff in Dublin, including his studio. Luckily, a little closer to my new home, the Metropolitan Museum of Art now has a retrospective of his works. I have to agree with much of what the reviewer at the NYT says, if for nothing else than the immensely appropriate article title If Paintings Had Voices, Francis Bacon’s Would Shriek.

Besides the grotesque, what Bacon excelled at was movement. Peter Schjeldahl at the New Yorker admits to not liking Bacon's work, but in the end even he has to agree it has power. Perhaps the best way to sum up Bacon is as Schjeldahl does:
Bacon's paintings objectify the subjective ordeal of perishing bodies that harbor immortal longings. In this, the paintings are indeed great, standing for a [sic] historical condition even of people who can't abide them.
Bacon often graphically depicted homosexual love, but to me the work speaks to the passion and insanity of any kind of love, even that which is unrequited.

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