Art Review: Francis Bacon at the Met, NYC

This is my first art review...


by Cynthia Rodriguez

A Centenary Retrospective May 20, 2009–August 16, 2009

I have discovered a new kindred spirit. Francis Bacon. The painter, that is. Not SIR Francis Bacon, the philosopher/politician/scientist. I used to confuse the two. I was never really a fan of Bacon. Now I'm hooked. I learned of his latest exhibit during my New York City stay last week through an art magazine I happened to pick up at the hotel. "Gallery & Studio: The World of the Working Artist". "Monster Master" by Ed McCormack, who was one of the original writers for "Interview", Andy Warhol's magazine.

Francis Bacon, 1909-1992, was a European figurative painter. His artwork was known (and at times notorious) for being controversial, bold, homoerotic, violent and nightmarish. Like alot of artists he had it rough growing up, in a very conservative household, in extremely conservative times and an abusive father. Also being gay did not help his situation either, especially in a time and place when and where homosexuality was illegal. At one point, he even worked as a "gentlemen's escort" to get by.

When I go to experience a major exhibit, I usually prefer to go alone. That way I know I can take my time, read EVERYTHING, and just stroll around with my little audio tour head phones. It takes me HOURS to go through one of these, and I love every minute of it. In this particular one I happened to be wearing my "QUEER." t-shirt. I thought of how lucky I was to be able to do that, because I know he couldn't.

I felt a serious connection with the artist in several ways. Many people see his art as twisted and morbid. I say there is nothing wrong with that, it's reality. I understood where he was coming from with his themes of mortality, death, and anti-religious tones in his work. His "deforming and reforming" portraits of individuals.

I always get such a kick out of the audio tours. I believe people really miss out on alot of little things when they don't take advantage of those. Most of the time you can hear some interview, and having the actual artist's voice in your ear while looking around can truly add a whole new dimension to the experience. It's like having their ghost walk around with you.

I found myself laughing out loud a bit at some parts of the audio tour. One painting of a dog on the sidewalk gazing at some gutter, the artist says that he was inpired for that piece by a pile of dog shit he saw one time on the curb. "That's what it's all about..." he said. Deep. Another part mentions how he had created some famous triptych "while he was drunk". Duh. What artist hasn't or doesn't do that?

The exhibit is of course divided into certain sections, earlier work, later work, portraits, abstracts, and so on. My favorite pieces were all the "crucifix" ones involving hanging slabs of beef you would find at the butcher shop and the twisted portraits of the pope with his signature open, gaping, mouths. I love the fact that he was able to get away with this stuff at that time. Apparently, he was pretty obsessed with collecting tons of photos, particularly dark themes, such as crime scenes, butcher shops, and Nazi propaganda.

My other favorite part of the show was the room where they had on display covering one entire wall, a life-size photograph of his studio. I did a double take when I saw it because I had felt like I just stepped back into my own art studio. It was amazing. It was such a wreck. Stuff all over the place, paint and other supplies, papers, cardboard, all kinds of junk. I had never seen another space that looked like mine. I wasn't alone. All the constant shit I get about my little dungeon didn't seem to matter, anymore. There are some great interview videos out there with the artist, in which he states, "...it's a dump. No one else would want it, but I can work here...", "...chaos for me breeds images...". He UNDERSTOOD. He got it. Being self-taught, when asked if he went to art school, he says, "No, thank God. I would've been taught techniques I don't want to know." It's interesting how they had in that same room little "artifacts" from his studio under glass, some that were probably just crap laying around. Of course, people always seem to have the need to analyze every little thing. Sometimes, though, a Snickers candy bar wrapper is just that. It's like, "Ooh, maybe this was some type of commentary on society". No. Sometimes the artist just gets hungry. The end.

In order to appreciate this type of exhibit, you need to drop all pre-conceived notions on what art is supposed to be, and open yourself up to the possibility that not all art is meant to be "pretty". Some of the best art ever created is very dark.


Kathy S. said...

Cynthia, first art review? Nice. I don't get to go and see as many things as I wish I could and your writing style and way of processing what you've seen made me feel as if I were along with you. So, thank you for the little vacation!.

Cynthia said...

Thank you Kathy! I know I really hogged the L blog this past week, lol. But I guess I had alot to say. Now I'll take a break for a little while after the next article.