28 Feb 2010

Rhythms of a Slaughter [29] Triptych, Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962. Deleuze on Bacon, Painting Series

by Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]Link

[Central Entry Directory]
[Deleuze Entry Directory]

[I am profoundly grateful to the sources of these images:
Editions de la différence.
Credits given at the end.]

[The following is quotation. My commentary is bracketed in red.]

Rhythms of a Slaughter

Francis Bacon

Triptych, Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962

Painting 56 of Deleuze's
Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Tome II - Peintures
Painting [29] of the English translation
and Painting [56] of the Seuil 2002 French

Already in the crucifixions, what interests Bacon is the descent, and the inverted head that reveals the flesh. In the crucifixions of 1962 and 1965, we can see the flesh literally descending from the bones, framed by an armchair-cross and a bone-lined ring [29, 35]. (Deleuze 2003: 17b)

Mais déjà dans les crucifixions, ce qui l'intéresse, c'est la descente, et la tête en bas qui révèle la chair. Et dans celles de 1962 et de 1965, on voit littéralement la chair descendre des os, dans le cadre d'une croix-fauteuil et d'une piste osseuse [56, 7]. (Deleuze 2002: 29bc.c)

[We might think of our bodies as being made-of flesh and bone. According to Deleuze, we discover in Bacon's works that the flesh best conveys or receives sensations. Consider how electricity sent through recently dead muscles can make them twitch. In fact, it is the flesh as meat which is the most able to sense and channel immediate sensations. In Bacon's paintings, we see the meat free itself by twisting-away from the bone. Note also that one of the forces acting on Bacon's figures is a downward falling force. What we find in the right panel of this triptych then is the carcass' meat falling-down from its skeleton.]

Later, the meat is given a head, through which it takes flight and descends from the cross, as in the two preceding crucifixions [29, 35]. (Deleuze 2003: 19a)

Ensuite la viande a une tête par laquelle elle fuit et descend de la croix, comme dans les deux Crucifixions précédentes. (Deleuze 2002: 31cd)

[If we look through the development of Bacon's artwork, we find that he begins by placing the head and pieces of meat near each other, then a bit later he paints the meatiness of the head. After this, he paints the head as a piece of meat, and finally, Bacon paints meat itself as being a head. In this painting, it is not so much that there is a meaty head on the carcass, as much as the meat on the carcass has a meaty head.]

(Again, thanks

Editions de la différence and the Estate of Francis Bacon)

First of all, we can see that there are many explicit attendants in the triptychs: 1962, the two disquieting characters in the left panel [29]; 1965, the two small old men seated at a table in the right panel, and the nude woman in the left panel [35]; (Deleuze 2003: 53bc.c)

Nous voyons d'abord qu'il y a beaucoup de témoins explicites dans les triptyques : 1962, les deux personnages inquiétants du panneau gauche [56] ; 1965, les deux petits vieillards attablés du panneau droit, et la femme nue du panneau gauche [7] ; (Deleuze 2002: 73bc)

For example, the visible attendants of the 1962 triptych [29] seem to raise themselves up like vampires, but one is passive and supporting his back so as not to fall, while the other is active and ready to fly away; (Deleuze 2003: 55bc)

Par exemple, les témoins apparents du triptyque de 1962 semblent se dresser comme des vampires, mais l'un passif et soutenant ses reins pour ne pas tomber, l'autre actif et prêt à s'envoler ; (Deleuze 2002: 75c)

(Again, thanks
Editions de la différence and the Estate of Francis Bacon)

Bacon's figures take-on and rotate a set of three roles, according to Deleuze. There are three characters they may adopt: active, passive, and attendant. Each one is characterized by its role in the rhythm of the way we see and bodily receive and respond-to the painting. Deleuze obtains these rhythmic characters (personnages rythmiques) from Messiaen (see this entry for a detailed explanation of Messiaen's personnages rythmiques). One character is active. She acts upon another character, the passive one, all while a third character observes. Although the figures in Bacon's paintings rotate these roles according to how we sense the painting at that given moment, Deleuze does point-out that some figures are more explicitly attendant characters. In this case, we see two figures that observe the other characters. However, we can also experience them as taking-on active and passive roles. The one on the left seems to rise-up over the other one. This makes the rising-one active and the other one passive.]

(Again, thanks

(Again, thanks
Editions de la différence and the Estate of Francis Bacon)

Thus, in the 1962 Three Studies for a Crucifixion [29], we see the large orange contour pushing back the red field; (Deleuze 2003: 103b)

Ainsi, dans « Trois études pour une crucifixion » de 1962 [56], on voit le grand contour orange tenir en respect l'aplat rouge ; (Deleuze 2002: 139c)

Sometimes, finally, the field rather frequently includes a band or ribbon of another color. Such is the case in the right panel of the 1962 triptych (Three Studies for a Crucifixion [29]), which displays a vertical green ribbon, (Deleuze 2003: 103c)

Tantôt enfin, il arrive assez souvent que l'aplat comporte une bande ou un ruban d'une autre couleur : c'est le cas du panneau droit de 1962, que présente un ruban vert vertical, (Deleuze 2003: 139c)

[The armature] can consist in the action of a very particular section of the field that we have not yet considered: the field occasionally includes a black section, sometimes quite localized (Pope No. II, 1960 [27]; Three studies for a Crucifixion, 1962 [29]; Portrait of George Dyer Staring into a Mirror, 1967 [45]; Triptych, 1972 [70]; Portrait of a Man Walking down Steps, 1972 [68]), (Deleuze 2003: 104c)

[l'armature peut] consister dans l'action d'une section très particulière de l'aplat que nous n'avons pas encore considérée : en effet, il arrive que l'aplat comporte une section noire, tantôt bien localisée (« Pape n° 2 » 1960 [45], « Trios études pour une crucifixion » 1962, « Portrait de George Dyer regardant fixement dans une miroir »1967, « Triptyque » 1972, «Homme descendant l'escalier » 1972), (Deleuze 2002: 140c.d)

[Deleuze thinks that Bacon's figures are pinned-up and held-to a monochromatic field, like how a sculpture is supported by an armature (see this entry for more elaboration on armatures). Most times there are sequences of changes in the color as the field passes from one area to the next. This would be a way that Bacon 'modulates' the color. Deleuze notes a number of different ways Bacon does this. In this case, we have an orange floor. Its edge or contour comes up against a red wall. So here the contour serves to divide the modulations. In other cases, there is a band of color that inserts itself into the broader field. Here we have a green ribbon.

(Again, thanks

But notice also how the divided sections of the field, the floor and wall, seem to suggest a horizontal plane (the floor) and a vertical one (the wall). This would seem to no longer make the field flat but rather three-dimensional. So we might try to perceive the back wall as set at a distance behind the figures. However, Bacon adds the black windows. They project forward to about the same depth as the figures.]

(Again, thanks
Editions de la différence and the Estate of Francis Bacon)

Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

(Again, thanks

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:

Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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

Three Studies for a Crucifixion 1962 Oil on board, 1982 x 1448 mm
© The Estate of Francis Bacon/DACS 2008
Courtesy Solomon R Guggenheim
Museum New York

No comments:

Post a Comment