Francis Bacon, it seems liked to drink and talk day and night (Hui commented in that way I am like him). That was part of the personal insight into the life of this provocative artist provided by author Michael Peppiatt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 23 in his lecture titled Francis Bacon: The Sacred and the Profane.
Peppiatt is in a position to know much about Bacon, having spent a considerable amount of time with him–drinking and talking. Peppiatt says Bacon brought with him a aura of freedom and vitality, with the power of the man not unlike the power of his paintings.
“The paintings would get into your blood and you were never the same again,” Peppiatt says. “They would poke and disturb the most fundamental areas of our identity.”
That identity, he continues, is stretched between irreconcilable extremes. One stretch perhaps being between Bacon’s professed atheism and the religious themes of his paintings.
But why did an artist so profoundly atheist return time and time again to paintngs of the crucifixion and popes?
I’m not sure the question was answered, but I suppose it’s more important it’s asked. Peppiatt conveyed that Bacon refused personal or biographical interpretations of his art. After his death in 1992, however there have been freer and more diverse interpretations.
Bacon, it seems, may have come to the profane through the sacred and were in a way an enactment of a ritual.
“We live in a period lacking in contemporary myth,” Peppiatt says adding that for Bacon the sacred and profane are so intermingled they become indistinguishable. In his works, myths may be crystalized in an intensity of (profane) feeling. For me it would seem that feeling is more introspect than it is aggressive, though admittedly I have not spent much time with his work (hey, life is short and there’s always more to drink, right?)
Francis Bacon’s Provocative Works are featured in a major retrospective through August 16 at the Met. Drawn from public and private collections around the world, this landmark exhibition consists of some 65 paintings, complemented by never-before-seen works and archival material from the Francis Bacon Estate, which will shed new light on the artist’s career and working practices. The Metropolitan Museum is the sole U.S. venue of the exhibition tour.
Click here for the audio slides show from the New Yorker.