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Francis Bacon

Critical and Theoretical Perspectives

Edited By Rina Arya

This collection of essays on Francis Bacon (1909-1992) pays tribute to the legacy, influence and power of his art. The volume widens the relevance of Bacon in the twenty-first century and looks at new ways of thinking about or reframing him. The contributors consider the interdisciplinary scope of Bacon’s work, which addresses issues in architecture, continental philosophy, critical theory, gender studies and the sociology of the body, among others. Bacon’s work is also considered in relation to other artists, philosophers and writers who share similar concerns. The innovation of the volume lies in this move away from both an art historical framework and a focus on the artist’s biographical details, in order to concentrate on new perspectives, such as how current scholars in different disciplines consider Bacon, what his relevance is to a contemporary audience, and the wider themes and issues that are raised by his work.


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Martin Hammer Contradiction and Continuity in the Art of Francis Bacon


In this paper I wish to step back from the claims about expressive inten- sity and strong content that are usually at the forefront of critical and art-historical commentary on the work of Francis Bacon. Instead I shall focus on the pictorial mechanics of his work. This approach at least has the merit of raising some fresh and interesting questions about his art, such as how were the paintings produced, practically speaking, and what distinctive pictorial sensations do they of fer the viewer? How, in addition, is meaning embedded in the visual language of his pictures, extending to his recurrent preferences for series and triptych formats? In 1953, Bacon famously proclaimed that Matthew Smith was ‘one of the very few English painters since Constable and Turner to be concerned with painting – that is, with attempting to make idea and technique inseparable. Painting in this sense tends towards a complete interlocking of image and paint, so that the image is the paint and vice versa’ (Bacon, 1953: 12). In Bacon too, albeit in a very dif ferent manner, image and paint need to be seen as interlocked rather than distinct, within the processes of both making and viewing. To that end, I want to focus on elements of continuity and recycling in his art. Contrary to the myth of permanent revolution, art historians have begun to explore repetition as a wider phenomenon within the production of art in the modern period, providing a context for estimating how it functions in Bacon...

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