Francis Bacon



I have been an admirer of Munch, the German expressionists, abstract expressionism (particularly de Kooning). That said, I find the work of Francis Bacon pretty disgusting and off putting. I can’t understand what people find in his small distorted figures floating in huge fields of plain dirty colors and his often use of straight lines with the use of a ruler. Or his distorted smaller pieces that do a disservice to cubism. If this is “neo expressionism”, I’d take “old expressionism” any time.
I'd just have to agree with you. I can appreciate him like I can any artist in the context of his time, but I personally don't like the aesthetic of the work. Not my thing. Nothing I'd hang in my home or purchase.
I agree, but not for the same reasons. No doubt he was great in his way, but I've got plenty of existential torment of my own, thanks very much.
I love his work. I saw several of his strongest pieces just out of art school, and about 5 years ago I saw the stunning retrospective of his work at the Met NY. The paintings... most dating from the late 1950s, 60s, and 70s had a freshness as if just painted yesterday. I like the contrast between the elegant architectural structure and the explosive expressionistic handling of the figures. His work blurs elements of photography, Baroque painting, Cubism, DeKooning, Rothko, and Pop Art. This painting based on one of Ingres' nudes absolutely screams:


His use of layers after layer of paint including florescent paint fueled my own use of florescents and paint layering.


This painting at the Guggenhein absolutely blew my mind. The central figure is violently gross... rivaling Grunewald's Crucifixion... but rather than being an image of an exploded body... it has a tactile... almost sculptural visceral presence... as if a body were exploded on the canvas surface. Yet... as vile as this may seem... its held together by the elegant structure of the composition.


One of the most disturbing aspects of Bacon's work is the manner in which he takes his own personal experiences... often quite perverted... and frames these within a structure that recalls religious icons or triptychs and elements from the very violent history of the 20th century. The title of this painting alludes to Aeschylus' Oresteia, a trilogy of Greek tragedies concerning the murder of the Greek commander, Agamemnon by his wife, Clytemnestra and her lover and the subsequent murder of Clytemnestra by her son, Orestes. The blood lust of this trilogy is echoed in the red of the painting and the altarpiece-like structure. The ominous shadow of the central panel suggests the Erinyes or Furies... female chthonic deities of vengeance. But here the furies seemingly haunt Bacon's lover, George Dyer, who died pathetically upon the toilet.

Personally, Bacon's paintings are not the sort I would want hanging on my wall where I would see them everyday... but I do find them deeply unsettling and his handling of composition and paint more than impressive and this seems enough for me to acknowledge him as a fine painter.
David, all I can say is different strokes for different folks. If we cared a lot about his homosexuality and the tragic deaths of his lovers/partners we’d possibly be more impressed by his revolting images. But I, for one, don’t care at all. Besides, in my opinion, his depiction is ridiculous in terms of artistic elements.
In this context, his depictions of the pope would have made Velasquez (who was Jewish.....) punch him hard in the face if the latter could only step out of his grave.
I dunno much of his work and the pics above certainly do nothing for me, but what I used to like are his deranged faces like so:


And this one, which I just discovered googling, is perfect (in my world anyway):


But I wouldn't bother to defend him.
I think I'd call his work: meaty--in the exact sense of the word, and that is not what I like. It is too literal for me as a way to express those feelings and emotions. I only like the one above that Roni last posted. Almost forgot about that one, but it's not like the greatest painting on the earth. I'd much prefer Edvard's Scream--more my style of expressionism.
... his depictions of the pope would have made Velasquez (who was Jewish.....) punch him hard in the face if the latter could only step out of his grave.

Well... I suspect we could say that of many artists. I can't imagine Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, or Michelangelo appreciating the work of Matisse, Picasso, Klee, Beckmann, Munch, etc... and Velazquez might have been just as outraged by Picasso's variations on Las Meninas.
One of my close friends from art school and a former studio partner was a big Bacon fan. I think he would place him second only to Picasso among the Modernists and of the old masters, he only spoke of Velazquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Ingres more. Personally, there are a good number of Moderns I prefer to Bacon: Degas, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Vuillard, Bonnard, Gauguin, Matisse, Beckmann, Klee, Balthus, Redon, George Tooker, Munch, Kirchner, Nolde, Picasso, Klimt, Schiele, Mucha, Rivera, and probably a good many more.
I wouldn't place Bacon second only to Picasso, that's for sure, but I'm also not a big fan of Picasso, consider him kinda overrated (though obviously important). You're also dealing w/two different eras and it seems to me that context changes some of the valuation. Bacon is probably not someone I would think to add to my Top 10 or maybe even Top 50, but maybe Top 100.

My ex was a big fan of Bacon, and he generally had a big influence on me. Really brilliant person. But he also told me that he didn't care for Bacon's apparently lackadaisical attitude toward color.