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Tuesday 05.26.09

« Signalled From the Periphery | Main | goldyne on van hoesen »

Wrong-headed linking

Is the Hybrid Bridge dead? It better not be! Portland Architecture reports there is a rising possibility of an all out war between Portland's design community and Trimet, which many suspect has rigged the Hybrid Bridge over the Willamette to fail while negotiating Trimet's rather design-blind decision making criteria. Seriously, something is very wrong in Portland's civic process if good design isn't given serious attention for its bridges like the new Willamette Span or the Columbia River Crossing. If Portland is to continue being the international design hub it has increasingly become, we must walk the walk. Besides, in "bridge city" we need especially well-designed bridges not just functional eyesores. Seriously, this simply cannot stand and the design/arts community needs to pool all of their networks and fight for good civic design. (aka the Rosales designed Hybrid Bridge and a design competition for the CRC). The process is broken, fix it! Tell Trimet what you think here.

Francis Bacon's "Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X" 1953, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa

Roberta Smith takes on the Francis Bacon retrospective at the Met and massively oversimplifies the painter. Though it's an important feature of the work, the male on male aspect isn't Bacon's only claim to preeminence... remember post WWII Europe was an open sore of burnt out cities, diasporas and mass graves. In essence Europe was mutilated and Bacon, more than any other European artist that gave face to it's existential horror. Leave it to a New York critic to lose sight of that. The Des Moines Art Center's screaming Pope is easy one of the 5 most important "post WWII era subject matter" paintings on the planet, along with de Kooning's Excavation and a few Pollocks. It is the only one with a human face that places blame on Europe's leadership. What is clear is, we don't have anything like him now.

*Update, Jerry Saltz writes a more useful article but still misses the key point of Bacon being a kind of lightning rod for European bile and self-loathing after two world wars. (thanks CC)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 26, 2009 at 10:39 | Comments (6)


Jerry Saltz just wrote a much more interesting article on Bacon.


Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 26, 2009 05:46 PM

I'm partial to Peter Schjeldahl in the New Yorker opening his piece with "Francis Bacon has long been my least favorite great painter of the twentieth century."

Posted by: radon [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 1, 2009 09:04 AM

I just saw the exhibit last week - and I was struck by how much I did not favor the first rooms. The sphinx-like posture of many of the figures seemed lazy and I have never been a fan of The Popes.

(Speaking of which - Have you seen pictures of Glenn Brown's take on Pope Innocent? Outrageous!)

Anyway, Bacon's animal studies of dogs and baboons seem the most interesting work prior to 1962.

And as the 60's roll out - the work explodes and Bacon becomes rather undeniable. The figures are completed - the distortion is labored and all the work concerning George Dyer is heartbreaking. It's very impressive. And what strikes me the most - is what a tremendous colorist Bacon had been. It reminded me of Bonnard.

Posted by: ST [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 1, 2009 02:56 PM

Im a big fan of the DMAC's Bacon and Ive seen it several times over the years... Ill see it at the Met in the few months.

I think the Important thing about Bacon was the way he channelled Europea self loathing and self aware criticism but he doesnt fit neatly together with the European and American ABEX counterparts.

Instead, he's like Anrew Wyeth and Stuart Davis... a lone, idiomatic voice concerned with its singularity.

Id like to see a Giacometti show right after takking in the Bacon retrospective to really have the opportunity to gage him.

Also, nobody talks of Giacometti's paintings and how related they are to Bacon's in mood. I wonder why?

I'd also like to see some Kathe Kollwitzes after seeing the Bacon show.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 1, 2009 04:32 PM


Posted by: rosenak [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 2, 2009 12:09 AM

Radon, enjoyed that article as well.

Saltz has fired a much needed salvo at the anointed 'greatest' industry. Like someone saying "No, Stairway to Heaven is not the greatest rock song ever" (or was it "Freebird"?).

Looked forward to seeing a Bacon at PAM a while back. A piece I'd seen repo'd often. Early 50's, back of a man, bluish grey in color. Title escapes me. However, in life, it was rather lacking and underwhelming, like I found Gursky and Richter to be. The idea is valid, and it reproduces well letter-sized. But that's it. All hat and no cattle. Some artworks come off better in print.

It's an inconvenient truth that as Modern Art (with all it's movements and isms) becomes part of history, comparisons will be made, not just with its contemporaries, but with art from all time periods. As Saltz mentions in his article, Bacon doesn't contribute much when next to Velazquez.

There are artists for their time, and artists for all time. Bacon is planted firmly in the former. More quotable than notable.

Thanks for letting me comment.

Posted by: Sean Casey [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 2, 2009 01:10 PM

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