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Francis Bacon 'The Painting'

Frances Bacon's 'Painting' (1946)

July 28th, 2013 by Karen Elzinga

Analysis of Frances Bacon's " Painting (1946")

In 1946 Francis Bacon created the painting called the "Painting (1946)" which focused on human form and his depiction of it with morbid distortions and disturbing imagery. This painting was Bacon's breakthrough work and now hangs in the Gallery of modern Art in New York. Through this case study the relationship between what the artist perceived himself as producing in this painting, and what others believed he was trying to convey and reflect, such as links to World War II, will be discussed. (Francis Bacon n.d)

To discuss how this painting reflected upon World War II, and how his use of symbology of the frayed carcass and umbrella extended its meaning is an embellishment. To reflect on the associations between Bacons painting and World War II would require a relative purpose in why Bacon painted the "Painting 1946". He did not paint it to reflect the war and war battles of the period. In an interview with David Sylvester in 1962, Bacon described the process of painting this painting as a pure accident. There was no process or image of war that he was trying to depict or portray when he started the painting. In fact he wanted to paint a chimpanzee in long grass, but then changed his mind instead opting to depict an image of birds alighting on a field, before again changing it to its current form. Described as the "Butcher Shop" picture by David Sylvester, Bacon recalled he had no intention of doing the picture the way it turned out and that he had never thought of it in that respect. He said that it had just happened as a continuous mistake, one accident on top of another, referring to the chimpanzee then the birds of which are believed to be partly visible in the final creation. (Painting (1946) n.d.)
If viewers of Bacons "Painting 1946" associate it with World War II reflection, it maybe because of his descriptive use of flesh, which went on to become an influential theme in many of his paintings throughout the rest of his career. (Francis Bacon n.d.)

This painting was formed in the immediate aftermath of World War II; it is easy to see why viewers would associate it with the war. It is a damning image of a public person personified by a man adorning the unofficial uniform of British politicians of the time. This could to some viewers, signify government personnel sending troops to war. With the distortion of the face and covering it by an umbrella it is depictive of hiding ones true feelings inside, whilst portraying an expected outside demeanor. Flanked by flayed carcass's it is indicative to tortured souls; it does have intertwining comparisons, to what government officials may have felt after sending men to their deaths on the battlefield. (The Collection n.d.)

In conclusion, Bacons use of flesh in its rawest, expresses a war torn quality, however if this painting was painted after any other crisis or natural disaster it would be labeled again for its comparisons, because of the grim nature of the work. It is easy to label art as defining a period or event. As proclaimed by Francis Bacon himself, this painting came about by pure accident and was never intended to look the way it ended up finishing. Whilst the comparison of why it could reflect on World War II are evident by the fleshiness and gruesome nature, discovery of the artists thoughts and motivations behind the painting have been taken into account throughout this case study, to show that Bacon did not set out to depict World War II. And that it may well have been the timing of the finished work that happened to coincide with the end of the war so natural comparisons were made.

By Karen Elzinga (Copyrighted)



References: written
Francis Bacon n.d. Retrieved: December 8, 2009, from
http://www.answers.com/topic/francis-bacon- painter

Francis Bacon painting n.d. Retrieved: December 7, 2009, from
http://www.artquotes.net/masters/bacon/paint_paint...


Painting (1946) n.d. Retrieved: December 7, 2009, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painting_(1946)

The Collection n.d. Retrieved: December 7, 2009, from
http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?...

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