14 Feb 2010

Sweeping in the Grass. [8] Landscape, 1952. Deleuze on Bacon, Painting Series

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

Sweeping in the Grass

Francis Bacon

Landscape, 1952

Painting 12 of Deleuze's
Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Tome II - Peintures
Painting [8] of the English translation
and Painting [12] of the Seuil 2002 French

What fills the rest of the painting will be neither a landscape as the correlate of the Figure, nor a ground from which the form will emerge, nor a formless chiaroscuro, a thickness of color on which shadows would play, a texture on which variation would play. Yet we are moving ahead too quickly. For there are indeed, in Bacon's early works, landscape-Figures like the Van Gogh of 1957 [23]; there are extremely shaded textures, as in Figure in a Landscape (1945) [2] and Figure Study I (1945-6) [4]; there are thicknesses and densities like those of Head II (1949) [5] (Deleuze, 2003: 3b.c) [...] But destiny can sometimes pass through detours that seem to contradict it. For Bacon's landscapes are a preparation for what will later appear as a set of short "involuntary free marks" lining the canvas, asignifying traits that are devoid of any illustrative or narrative function: hence the importance of the grass, and the irremediably grassy character of these landscapes (Landscape, 1952 [8]; Study of a Figure in a landscape, 1952 [9]; Study of a Baboon, 1953 [14]; Two Figures in the Grass, 1954 [17]). (Deleuze 2003: 3c.d)

Ce qui remplit le reste du tableau, ce ne sera pas un paysage comme corrélat de la figure, ni un fond dont surgirait la forme, ni un informel, clair-obscur, épaisseur de la couleur où se joueraient les ombres, texture où se jouerait la variation. Nous allons trop vite pourtant. Il y a bien, ou début de l'oeuvre, des Figures-paysages comme le Van Gogh de 1957 ; il y a des textures extrêmement nuancées, comme « Figure dans un Paysage » ou « Figure étude I », de 1945 ; il y a des épaisseurs et densités comme la « Tête II » de 1949; [...] Mais il n'est pas exclu que ce qui est destin passe par des détours qui semblent le contredire. Car les paysages de Bacon sont la préparation de ce qui apparaîtra plus tard comme un ensemble des courtes « marques libres involontaires » rayant la toile, traits asignifiants dénués de fonction illustrative ou narrative : d'où l'importance de l'herbe, le caractère irrémédiablement herbu de ces paysages (« Paysage » 1952, « Étude de figure dans un paysage » 1952, « Étude de babouin » 1953, ou « Deux figures dans l'herbe » 1954). (Deleuze 2002: 13-14)

[Predominantly in Bacon's works, there are figures pinned-down to a flat uniformly-colored field. They stand in contrast to the field without standing-up out from it. So there is not an extensive depth. But because of the changing forces that the painting produces, there is something more like an intensive depth pervading the two-dimensional face of the work. Deleuze here addresses some exceptions, one of which is Landscape of 1952. Here we do not see a monochromatic field but rather a thick mass of slightly discernible strokes.

Nonetheless, Bacon later uses similar techniques to increase the intensity of his paintings. He might incorporate some chance-based manipulation, like throwing or smearing the paint. Another technique is 'local scrubbing,' where Bacon would use a rag, handbroom, or brush so scratch and smear the paint so to spread its thickness throughout a non-representational region (a 'nonfigurative zone'). So paintings such as this one, although seeming to be exceptions to Bacon's more predominant style, can instead be considered as preparations for what he will develop in his later works.]

(Again, thanks artinvest2000.com)

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.

Image obtained gratefully from:

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