This year, the Art Gallery of New South Wales plays host to a collection of pieces by surrealist, Francis Bacon as part of the gallery’s International Art Series. Spanning from the early nineteen forties until the late eighties, the exhibition covers approximately five decades of his artistry and showcases many unseen stimuli from his workshop and personal interests. The works have been drawn from over 37 different collections, including the Museum of Modern Art of in New York as well as the Tate Museum in London.
Bacon passed away in 1992, but was revolutionary for his time. In this collection of post-war pieces, Bacon exemplifies controversial modern art. Throughout the commentary of the exhibition, we learn of his influences, from studying the works of Impressionists such as van Gogh and abstract expressionists, such as Picasso. As the exhibition progresses, we see the influential nature of these and other sources to Bacon’s work. Controversial and radical for it’s time, the art of Francis Bacon is experimental in textures and style, as well as subject matter, for a lot of his work presents a level of homosexual oppression. Throughout the exhibition, we are shown his social commentary in works like ” The Crucifixion” and “Figure in landscape,” and these are said to encapsulate his social interests in human brutality and Nazi Germany, as well as his personal interests in radiography and lovers. Both of these artworks highlight the interrelation and combination of subject matter that Bacon exemplified in most of his pieces.
The exhibition itself is a mixture of different mediums- photography of Bacon and his studio, films from at critics and influential films from the 1920’s, as well as artefacts from his studio. The exhibition is a great showcase of selected works, however I felt that I need an introduction to his artistic capabilities and endeavors/career in interior design, rather than just a focus on his internal angst and social commentary. I felt that the exhibition was a little narrow in selection and I was Ieft wanting to know more of his progression through artistic styles and why those interested him. For example, late 2012, the gallery showcased the works of Picasso and they displayed the progression of his works- from his ability to sculpt and sketch like Michelango at age 11, to his deconstructionist abstract expressionism. It was because of this chronological progression that I understood the motives and reasoning behind a lot of the later works. I felt that this is was was lacking from the current Francis Bacon exhibition, although it was very interesting to see the masterpieces from one of the most intellectual and controversial artists of the 21st Century.
As an intellectual endeavor, I recommend catching this exhibition before it ends on the 24th of February.