Posted by Daniel D. Tennant on April 13, 19100 at 19:20:16:
In Reply to: request for help?? posted by Bob Joseph on January 24, 19100 at 10:49:32:
: As a 6th-form art student, I have to write an essay on distortion in portraits.
: Under the chapter of Francis Bacon, I have stumbled into a dead end. In all the reports, books, articles and what-nots about Bacon I have read, I still cannot find any reason WHY his portraits are so disfigured, disformed and distorted.
: Can anyone kindly be of help, as to pointing me in the right direction with use of web pages, books, etc.
: To be of even more help, could anyone possibly simply give me any useful information at all?
: Thank you for your time,
: and it's a great site, too.
I have been conducting research on Francis Bacon for an Art History course. I am a painter at SWT. Bacon distorts the figure for several reasons. First in his own words, he commented that he did not like to have his subjects present when he painted them, preferring to work from photos or memory (usually photos) He said that having them present inhibited him from doing the violence that he would do to his subects through the act of representation. His paintings are expressing violence, apprehension, pain and death. From a technical standpoint, one of his goals was to deconstruct the figure. He would imagine his subjects as malleable as clay and would twist them into impossible positions. On yet another level, if you agree with the theories set forth in Ernst van Alphen's book, he was interested in the loss of self or identity. His position was that we form self-images from our visual awareness of how we look (ex. mirror's reflection) Francis sought to negate this through the representational process of image-making. I personally believe the former rather than the latter explanatin although there may be some truth to van Alphen's assumptions. His images cause pain to the viewer. It is his image's affective qualities that make his imagery so powerful. Through committing violence to the representation, he is also able to cause violence to the viewer. Above alll, Bacon was interested in communicating sensations to the viewer. He wanted to have his paintings directly affect the nervous system. I hope this helps.
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