Bacon's "Portrait of Henrietta Moraes", 1969, oil on canvas
Bacon's "Portrait of Henrietta Moraes", 1969, oil on canvas

FLORENCE - It is an obvious point, but holds a hidden meaning. The last century did not have many artists who merit the “adjectivization” of their name, like Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rembrandt or Goya, to define an entire genre.

Writers have given us Kafkaesque and Chekhovian, but can we say “Baconian”? The current exhibition at Florence's Strozzina modern art museum offers Francis Bacon the ‘ancestor’ treatment, and includes his studio from Reece Mews in London.

And something from that well-trodden, metabolized world, with its muscular drawings by Michelangelo, reproduced in magazines and covered with fingerprints, photographs of ill-fated lovers, the "traitor" Lucian Freud, on a daybed that looks as if it came from some lost canvas, outdated ads... creates this original show, which not only boasts some of his important and rarely seen works, but above all, does not give us only the last (rather Marlboroughian) battered triptychs, which have been seen in so many exhibits recently.

For example, the visionary Marching Figures of 1951 is extremely beautiful, showing diligent little soldiers marching into the distance, walking into one of those classic spiritualist “Bacon-style” cubes under the wild stare of a large frozen head, which some see as that of a polar bear, but which perhaps also refers to the mysterious alchemical meteorite of Dürer’s Melencholia I.

Both possess the marvelous "eyeless stares" which the great critic Gilles Deleuze mentions in his famous thesis on how to make the visible invisible.

But above all, how did Bacon avoid illustration and figurative art, while still achieving “figuration?” It is illuminating, in front of his final canvases, left incomplete on easels in his studio, to see how his mental-manual laboratory worked.

That Bacon could have been “father” to many children and grandchildren is not a surprise. In recent years he has been dragged into dubious shows-- for example, the Rome exhibit that arbitrarily and superficially lined him up with Caravaggio, another bad boy.

Even this show could basically be arbitrary (and it is, inevitably and rationally) and yet centrifugal, explosive and radiant. The chosen artists are not necessarily directly linked to or close to achieving the pictorial texture of the ‘maestro,’ so that the show is less educational than it might otherwise be. But perhaps this is fair after all.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
food / travel

Russia Thirsts For Prestige Mark On World's Wine List

Gone are sweet Soviet wines, forgotten is the "dry law" of Gorbachev, Russian viticulture is now reborn.

A wine cellar at the Twins Garden restaurant in Moscow

Benjamin Quenelle

MOSCOW — A year after its opening, Russian Wine is always full. Located in the center of Moscow, it has become a trendy restaurant. Its wine list stands out: It offers Russian brands only, more than 200, signalled in different colors across all the southern regions of the country.

Russian Wine (in English on the store front, as well as on the eclectic menu) unsurprisingly includes Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula where viticulture has revived since Moscow annexed it in 2014.

Keep reading... Show less
Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ