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