Bacon's Position

Man. "I think that man now realizes that he is an accident, that he is a completely futile being, that he has to play out the game without reason."[1]

Image. An "image is a kind of tightrope walk between what is called figurative painting and abstraction. It will go right out from abstraction but will really have nothing to do with it. It's an attempt to bring the figurative thing up onto the nervous system more violently and more poignantly."[1]

Abbreviation. "In the complicated stage in which painting is now, the moment there are several figures - at any rate several figures on the same canvas - the story begins to be elaborated. And the moment the story is elaborated, the boredom sets in; the story talks louder than the paint. This is because we are actually in very primitive times once again, and we haven't been able to cancel out the story-telling between one image and another."[1]

Art as Game. "You see, all art has now become completely a game by which man distracts himself; and you may say it has always been like that, but now it's entirely a game. What is fascinating actually is, that it's going to become much more difficult for the artist, because he must really deepen the game to become any good at all."[1]

Illustration and Art. "An illustrational form tells you through the intelligence immediately what the form is about, whereas a non-illustrational form works first upon sensation and then slowly leaks back into the fact."

Picasso. "Picasso was the first person to produce figurative paintings which overturned the rules of appearance; he suggested appearance without using the usual codes, without respecting the representational truth of form, but using a breath of irrationality instead, to make representation stronger and more direct; so that form could pass directly from the eye to the stomach without going through the brain."

Sources of Inspiration. "Images [...] help me find and realise ideas. I look at hundreds of very different, contrasting images."

Happiness. "Before I start painting I have a slightly ambiguous feeling: happiness is a special excitement because unhappiness is always possible a moment later."

Creation. "The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love."

Organic beauty. "Flesh and meat are life! If I paint red meat as I paint bodies it is just because I find it very beautiful."

Scream. "We are born with a scream. We come into life with a scream."

Violence. "My painting is not violent. It’s life that is violent."

Autobiographical art. "My painting is a representation of life, my own life above all, which has been very difficult. So perhaps my painting is very violent, but this is natural to me."

Morals. "I have no moral lesson to preach, nor any advice to give."

Being macabre. "Cuando se es fiel a la vida, se es inevitablemente macabro porque finalmente se nace para morir."[3]

Art as Private Matter. "I paint for myself. I don’t know how to do anything else, anyway."

Mystery. "The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery."[2]

Talent. "I don’t think people are born artists; I think it comes from a mixture of your surroundings, the people you meet, and luck."

Artistic Freedom. "All artists are vain, they long to be recognised and to leave something to posterity. They want to be loved, and at the same time they want to be free. But nobody is free."

Success. "I have been lucky enough to be able to live on my obsession. This is my only success."

Sources and references
1. Francis Bacon, interviewed by David Sylvester, 1962
2. The painter, quoting his Renaissance namesake (Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626). See Michael Jeffery (Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia), speech supporting the Biennale of Sydney, 6.6.2006
3. "Un homenajeado y cotizado Bacon cumpliría mañana cien años," EPA, 27.10.2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/epa/article/ALeqM5jyBXe1B1iZwCONka84k26o3WqRrA


Painter Francis Bacon's Centennial Birthday

• "To be born is a very ferocious act." Bacon, self-taught British artist, born on October 28th, 1909.

Official website. The State of Francis Bacon. Image archives. AllPosters, art54, Artchive, Artcyclopedia, Artinvest, Artsversus, BritArt, Chrisis, Ciudad de la Pintura, El Poder de la Palabra, Estate, Fine Art, Gemeentemuseum, Government Art Collection, Insecula, Shafrazi, Tate, WebMuseum. Artwork details. Liste des tableaux. Biography and reference. Arte e Historia, Artelibre, Artsversus, BiosyVidas, BritArt, Cohen, El Poder de la Palabra, Estate, FineArtUK, Gemeentemuseum, Grove Dictionary of Art, Guggenheim Museum, HughLane, Oxford Dictionary of Art (eNotes), PicassoMío, Publispain, Trivia, Wikipedia. Interviews. Sylvester (1966), Bragg (1985), Duras (1990), Giacobetti (1992). Quotations. ArtQuotes, HumanitiesWeb, Tijeretazos. Sources of inspiration. BBC-Audio, Family, Gemeentemuseum, In Camera, South Bank Show 1985, People. Themes. Blake, Innocent X, Van Gogh. Technique. Gemeentemuseum. Exhibits. Pompidou 1996, Shafrazi 1999, Gemeentemuseum den Haag 2001, Tate 2008, Prado 2009. Reviews. Jeffreys, Harrod, Hughes1, Hughes2, Löhndorf, Lubbock. Interpretation. Akerman, Berger, Brown, Bulfinch, Cooper, Deleuze, Harrison, Jones, Morris, Nochlin, Palacios, Sylvester, Rocca, Vidal, Yusti. Market. Art+Auction, Thornton. Various. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Background. Castillo, Deleuze. Searching tools. Artcyclopedia, Artresource, Ask, Google, Live, Picsearch, Yahoo

Bibliographic and electronic resources
Akerman, Mariano. "The Grotesque in Francis Bacon's Instinctive Paintings" (1999), revised and updated version, Knol, 30.10.2009
---. Francis Bacon y lo Grotesco, Aspectos grotescos del arte de Bacon, El juego de Bacon (lectures, Universidad de Belgrano, Buenos Aires, 1999), Knol, May-June 2009
---. "Las fuentes hispánicas del arte baconiano," Akermariano, 15.8.2006
---. "The Grotesque in Francis Bacon's Paintings," Asterisk, 19.2.2009
---. "Lo Grotesco en las pinturas de Bacon," Baconian, 20.2.2009
Alarcó, Paloma. "Retrato de George Dyer en un espejo" (2001), Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 19.2.2009
Berger, Peter. "¿Un maestro de lo despiadado?," El País, 15.5.2004, Babelia (cultural supplement), p. 40
Bragg, Melvin, interviewer. "Francis Bacon," The South Bank Show, BBC filmed documentary, directed by David Hinton, 1985
Brown, Neil. "Hayward Gallery, London," Frieze Magazine, Issue 40, May 1998
Castillo, Ramón. "El cuerpo des-organizado del masoquismo," A Parte Rei, #55, Spain, January 2008
Cohen, Louise. "Francis Bacon at Tate Britain" (biographical sketch), Times Online, 9.9.2008
Cooper, Emmanuel. "Queer Francis: Life, Death and Anguish in the Work of Francis Bacon," based on "Queer Spectacles," Outlooks, edited by Peter Horne and Reina Lewis, Routledge, London and New York, 1996.
Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: lógica de la sensación (1981; extracto), tr. Isidro Herrera, Madrid: Arena Libros, 2002
---. "¿Qué es la filosofía? and other texts, Caosmosis, 2007-2008
Duras, Marguerite, interviewer. "Francis Bacon, Pintor" (entrevista, 1990), Tijeretazos (Postriziny), Revista de Literatura y Cine; repr. "Entrevista a Francis Bacon," Ddooss, Valladolid (28.9.2009)
Giacobetti, Francis, interviewer. "Francis Bacon: una entrevista," Verde Country, Argentina, 2006
Harrod, Dominick. "Francis Bacon at Tate Britain," Spoonfed, London, 9.11.2008
Hughes, Robert. "Out of the Black Hole," Time, 13.12.1971
---. "Singing with the Bloody Wood," Time, 1.7.1985
Jeffreys, Tom. "Francis Bacon at Tate Britain," Spoonfed, London, 10.9.2008
Jones, Jonathan. "Study for Portrait II - after the Life Mask of William Blake, by Francis Bacon (1955)," Guardian, 23.2.2002
Jones, Ronald. "Francis Bacon: Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York," Frieze Magazine, Issue 45, May 1999.
Löhndorf, Marion. "Francis Bacon: A Portrait," Deutsche Bank Artmag, 2003
Lubbock, Tom. "All hail a Vulgar Entertainer," Independent, 10.9.2008
Madrid, Museo del Prado, Francis Bacon, February-April 2009
Morris, Desmond. "On Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion," Tate Etc., Issue 8, Autumn 2006, MicroTate (31.10.2009)
Nochlin, Linda, Milan Kundera, et al., "Francis Bacon," Tate Etc., Issue 14, Autumn 2008 (31.10.2009)
Palacios, Gillermo da Costa. "Francis Bacon: Radiografías de la distorsión," Enfocarte, # 6.27, 2006
Rey, Ignacio Castro. “Según Deleuze,” Art.es, Madrid, Febrero 2004
Rocca, Adolfo Vásquez. "El cuerpo como objeto mutilado: regresión a la animalidad," Ciber Humanitatis, #31, Chile: Universidad de Chile, 2004; repr. "De la metamorfosis a la disgregación," Criticarte, undated (28.10.2009)
Ruiz, Adriana Rodríguez. Los horrores de Francis Bacon, PDF (28.10.2009)
Sylvester, David. Filmed interviews with Francis Bacon (1966), YouTube, 13.8.2008, pts. 1+2
---. "Fragmentos de entrevistas con Francis Bacon" (1966), Excesos, #2, año 1, November 2001
Thornton, Sarah. "Bacon claims his Place at the Top of the Market," The Art Newspaper, Issue 194, September 2008
Vidal, Julio César Abad. "Francis Bacon en el Museo del Prado," Arte10.com, February-April 2009
Yusti, Carlos. "Francis Bacon y la soledad desollada," Analítica, Venezuela, 3.1.2004


Francis Bacon at the BBC

The words of the painter and his interpreters have been recorded and are now available to everyone thanks to the BBC Archive Online. Documents one may consult online:
1. "Francis Bacon" (interview by David Sylvester), The Third Program, broadcast 23 March 1963. Bacon discusses his work and methods and reveals his artistic influences, details his tightrope walk between abstract and figurative painting, and describes his work as "one continuous accident." Bacon also talks about the practical side of his art, his application of paint and the glazing of his pictures, as well as the motivations behind his career.
2. Pilot Francis Bacon, excerpt from an interview by Julian Jebb, 1965 (not broadcast). This pilot for a Live Arts Discussion Programme. Bacon talks about his contemporaries in the art world, his working practices and personal philosophies, such as his belief that true abstract painting is nothing more than "lyrical, charming and decorative."
3. "Francis Bacon: Fragments of a Portrait," interview by David Sylvester, TV documentary, broadcast on BBC1, 18 September 1966. The recurring themes in Bacon's work, his influences and his life. The programme features graphic images of butchery that one may find disturbing.
4. "Stripped Down to What's Real," interview by David Jones, exhibit review, broadcast on BBC2, 29 October 1971. Ref. Grand Palais exhibition in Paris, which was marred by the suicide of George Dyer (Bacon's former partner) in a Paris hotel room just two days before the opening. Dyer featured repeatedly in Bacon's paintings throughout the 1960s. The two allegedly met while Dyer was burgling Bacon's flat.
5. "Bacon on Titian's The Death of Actaeon," Arts Commentary, presented by Andrew Forge, broadcast Radio 3, 4 March 1972. Ref. The National Gallery's campaign to keep Titian's painting in London. Forge hosts a discussion between Bacon and Michael Levy about the painting's merits.
6. "Francis Bacon Art Forgeries," News, broadcast on BBC1, 3 April 1976. Radical Italian students produced forgeries to raise money for the Communist Party and to undermine and devalue the art establishment. Bacon, when asked his opinion of the forged paintings by interviewers at the time, grins wryly and pronounces them, "extremely bad fakes."
7. Richard Cork, "Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion," One Hundred Great Paintings, broadcast on BBC2, 5 April 1982. Painted in 1944, Francis Bacon's three-panel painting became an art-historical landmark. Art historian Richard Cork explains the background to the painting, including Bacon's influences, from the obvious Christian references to not so evident images of Nazi Germany and its victims.
8. "A Man without Illusions," presented by Richard Cork, broadcast on Radio 3, 16 May 1985. Ref. Reactions to the provocative work of Francis Bacon, ranging from simplistic psychological approaches to appreciation of his manipulation of pigment, which Bacon always put down to intuition and luck, but critic David Sylvester believed to have links to the country house portraits of England's past. Cork explores these and other theories in his discussions with art critics and with Bacon himself to discover the truth behind this "man without illusions."
9. "I'll Go On until I Drop," interview by Richard Cork, Kaleidoscope, broadcast on Radio 4, 17 August 1991. Bacon talks openly about his influences, his work and his ongoing passion for both life and painting; he resists any attempt to eulogise him or his work. The artist restates his famous claim that he doesn't draw, although as visitors to Bacon exhibitions can testify, he actually left behind drawings that suggest that his work was more planned and meticulous than he liked to admit.
10. "Innocent Screams," Centurions, produced by Hellen Castell, broadcast on Radio 3, 24 January 1999. Ref. Why did Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X prove to be such an enduring source of inspiration for Bacon? Although he never saw the original, the many images he collected of it formed the basis for his series of 'screaming popes' paintings. The Velazquez image engendered a number of images that Bacon used, reused and combined with other elements to convey a powerful sense of rage and impotence at the human condition.
11. "Bacon in His Own Words," interviews by Sylvester, Jebb and Cork, BBC4, 31 October 2009.

Picture: Jorge Lewinski, Francis Bacon, photograph, 1985; Lewinski Photo Archive (via BBC Online)
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