28 Mar 2010

Fate of the Wild [77] Francis Bacon: Seated Figure, 1974.Deleuze on Bacon, Painting Series

by Corry Shores
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[May I deeply thank the sources of these images:
Credits found at the end.]

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

Fate of the Wild

Francis Bacon: Seated Figure, 1974
Gilbert de Botton Collection
(Thank you so very much Stampfli & Turci of eaobjets.wordpress.com and Palazzo Reale)

Painting 39 of Deleuze's Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Tome II - Peintures
Painting [77] of the English translation, and
Painting [39] of the Seuil 2002 French

Man becomes animal, but not without the animal becoming spirit at the same time, the spirit of man, the physical spirit of man presented in the mirror as Eumenides or Fate [77]. (Deleuze 2003: 16ab)

L'homme devient animal, mais il ne le devient pas sans que l'animal en même temps ne devienne esprit, esprit de l'homme, esprit physique de l'homme présenté dans le miroir comme Euménide ou Destin. [39] (Deleuze 2002: 28bc)

[The faces of Bacon's figures are often deformed as though pushed-and-pulled in many divergent directions at once. These deformations result from one of Bacon's techniques. He randomly messes-up the figure in unintentional ways, like spattering or smearing the paint. This creates new opportunities to unfold the figure's rendition. But because Bacon develops the work in more than one direction at once, the face is warped, stretched, and mutilated. There are many forces chaotically intertwined in the figure's body. We might say that there is a zone of wilderness, like a jungle of forces, inhabiting the wildly twisted body. The forces are not explicit, yet they are fully there, fully expressed in the body's contortions. They are implicit involved intensities rather than explicit evolved extensities. They flare-up-and-about like the tongues of a wild fire. This is the wild spirit inhabiting intensified bodies, making them more like animal meat than human flesh.

When we view Bacon's paintings, we are affected in such a way that our bodies feel the same affect. Our bodies become disorganized. Its many organs which want to function harmoniously and organically now operate divergently, able only to communicate to each other the differences they are feeling. In a sense, we became animal, because we embody a wilderness. Hence when our bodies and faces become animal, it is not that they take-on specific animal shapes. As Deleuze writes, "the marks or traits of animality are not animal forms, but rather the spirits that haunt the wiped off parts, that pull at the head, individualizing and qualifying the head without a face" (Deleuze 2003: 15-16). So, we embody the spirit of the wild, of the animal.

(Again, thanks Stampfli & Turci of eaobjets.wordpress.com and Palazzo Reale)

That man becomes animal in this way is a fact. But likewise in the same process, animal becomes man. Their inter-becoming, then, is a 'common-fact'. Perhaps as our bodies express their inner wilderness, we give a human embodiment to the animal spirits. When the figure here looks in the mirror, he does not see the image of his body. Rather, he sees its physical spirit. What we observe in the painting is an animal-like creature that is taking-on the form of a Fury or of Fate.

(And once more, I would like to thank Stampfli & Turci of eaobjets.wordpress.com and Palazzo Reale)

The animal spirits, in this way, cross-into a human domain where they come to express a human rendition of destiny. So consider when we are torn-about by wild animal forces. Our bodies then embody the animal spirits of wildness just as much as these spirits take-on human form and express the human in its rawest state or 'fact'. The common fact then is the dual state-of-affairs arising when the human expresses the animal all while the animal thereby expresses the human.]

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 quite gratefully from:

Stampfli & Turci of espaces arts & objets.
Authors here say the image was provided courtesy of Palazzo Reale:

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