27 Jan 2010

Monstrous Motions [1] Deleuze on Bacon, Painting Series. Triptych, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944.

by Corry Shores
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[The following is quotation and summary from Gilles Deleuze's The Logic of Sensation. My commentary is in brackets.]

Monstrous Motions
Deleuze on Bacon, Painting Series

Francis Bacon

Triptych, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944.

Painting 80 of Deleuze's
Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Tome II - Peintures
Painting [1] of the English translation
and Painting [80] of the Seuil 2002 French

(www.thecityreview.com Thanks Carter B. Horsley)

What do these two directions of vertical variation consist of? How are these two opposable rhythms distributed? There are simple cases in which it is a matter of a descending-rising opposition. In the 1944 triptych of monsters [1], a descending head whose hair is falling downward, and an inverted head whose screaming mouth is aimed upward, are placed on either side of the head with the horizontal smile. (Deleuze 55d)

En quoi consistent ces deux sens de la variation verticale ? Comment se distribuent les deux rythmes opposables ? Il y a des cas simples où il s'agit d'une opposition descente-montée : le triptyque des monstres de 1944 met, de part et d'autre de la tête au sourire horizontal, une tête qui descend et dont les cheveux tombent, et une tête inversée dont la bouche qui crie est tendue vers le haut. (Deleuze 75-76)

In the triptychs, it is thus on the horizontal that we must seek the attendant-rhythm with a constant value. This horizontal can be presented in several Figures. First, there is the flat hysterical smile, which appears not only, as we have seen, in the 1953 triptych of the head (left panel [13]), but already in the 1944 triptych of monsters (central panel) [1], where the head with the bandaged eyes is not a head preparing to die, but an abominable head that smiles along the horizontal deformation of the mouth. (Deleuze, 54b)

Dans les triptyques, c'est donc sur l'horizontale qu'on cherchera le rythme-témoin à valeur constante. Cette horizontale peut présenter plusieurs Figures. D'abord, celle du plat sourire hystérique : non seulement comme nous l'avons vu, pour le triptyque de tête de 1953 (panneau gauche), mais déjà pour le triptyque des monstres de 1944 (panneau central), où la tête aux yeux bandés n'est pas du tout une tête qui s'apprête à mordre, mais une tête abominable qui sourit, suivant une déformation horizontale de la bouche. (Deleuze 74b).

[Look more closely at the heads. The left head's falling hair draws our eyes downward. The right head raises its upper jaw and gives us a sense of upward motion or force. But the center head's mouth is largely flat and horizontal. We might consider it like a frame of reference to gauge and feel the other motions, which pull us up-and-down.]

(euroartmagazine.com Thanks Dr. Gerry Coulter)

If we consider the particularly significant example of the triptychs, we see the large, brilliant fields of monochrome colors spread out before us - oranges, reds, ochers, golden yellows, greens, violets, pinks. Now if, in the beginning, modulation could still be obtained through differences of value (as in the 1944 Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion [1]), it quickly becomes apparent that modulation must simply consist of internal variations of intensity, or saturation, and that these variations themselves change depending on relations of proximity to this or that zone of the field. (Deleuze 103a)

Si l'on prend l'exemple particulièrement significatif des triptyques, on voit s'étendre de grands aplats monochromes et vifs, orangés, rouges, ocre, jaunes d'or, verts, violets, roses. Or si, au début, la modulation pouvait encore être obtenue par des différences de valeur (comme dans «Trois études de Figures au pied d'une crucifixion » de 1944), il apparaît vite qu'elle doit seulement consister en variations internes d'intensité ou de saturation, et que ces variations changent elles-mêmes d'après les rapports de voisinage de telle ou telle zone de l'aplat. (Deleuze 138-139)

(euroartmagazine.com Thanks Dr. Gerry Coulter)

[We see that there is the same color in all three panels, creating an indeterminate flat field. But notice how in the left panel the color is somewhat darkened, the center one less so, and the right even less than that. In this way, the color's tone modulates from one panel to the next.]

Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Transl. Daniel W. Smith. London/New York: Continuum, 2003.

Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Paris: Seuil, 2002.

Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Tome II - Peintures. Paris: Editions de la différence [Littératures], 1981.

Images obtained gratefully from:

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