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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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Darren Ambrose Deleuze’s Bacon: Automatism and the Pictorial Fact

Extract

This paper of fers a detailed response to criticisms raised by the art his- torian Martin Harrison of Gilles Deleuze’s treatment of Francis Bacon.1 The pivotal text in this analysis is Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation.2 Whilst Harrison acknowledges the originality and powerful insights pro- duced by Deleuze’s study of Bacon, he proposes that there are a number of weaknesses, erroneous assumptions and misconceived analyses within it. For Harrison (2009b: 148), Bacon’s ‘modus operandi refuses to align with Deleuze’s implausible rhetoric of pushing beyond figuration.’ In other words, Harrison believes that Deleuze is guilty of privileging abstract philosophical theory over genuine fidelity to the actual complexity of Bacon’s practice. Deleuze is accused of adhering too much to Bacon’s own explanatory nar- rative with regards to his modus operandi. As Harrison notes, a degree of Bacon’s own explanation of his practice, largely propagated through the strictly controlled dialogues with the art critic David Sylvester, has little more than the status of accumulated myth. Harrison suggests that these interviews hold a sacrosanct place within Deleuze’s study, being referred to constantly. In fact Deleuze could be considered as having committed an ‘intentional fallacy’, resulting in aspects of his philosophical study doing little more than providing an elaborate and ultimately illegitimate theoreti- 1 Including Harrison, 2006b, 2008, 2009a and 2009b. Harrison is also the author of a detailed study of Bacon’s utilization of photography in his work (2006a) and is currently the chief editor of the forthcoming Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné with the...

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