hit the Francis Bacon: Paintings from the 1950s
exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum
yesterday with Mom and Aunt Pat, who were in town over the weekend visiting Uncle Bill and Aunt Helen. I can't say that any of us were particularly taken with his imagery. Cognitively, I could appreciate where he stood in terms of artistic or intellectual history, in the sweeping despair regarding humanity after the horrors of the Second World War that you see expressed throughout the arts. European genocide seems to bring modernity's optimism regarding human "progress" to an end, with perhaps the noted exception of the Catholic Church and the shocking prophetic joy underlying Pope John XXIII's "We feel must disagree with these prophets of doom" articulated at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council in October of 1962, from just under the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis. [Oops! Typos corrected!:] Bacon's exhibition, described here
, does not share in that vision, and while one can come to some certain forms of positive portrayals of his friends modeling for him, this is perhaps too obscured by the distorted, even decaying forms in which he human figures seem trapped. All initial impressions, though. I'll likely go back at least once and try to spend more time with the paintings. My family clearly had entered into a kind of mute despair at how slowly I move through an art gallery, mute, at least, until Aunt Helen came back and teased me about it.