Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) installed at PAM (photo Jeff Jahn)
Well, gawkers and serious art fans alike... it is now on display, Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud triptych
, as you can see in this exclusive photo (taken just after it was hung but before the small metal foot barrier was put in place).
Some will see this as an art market apocalypse and treat it in much the same way celebrity weddings or major car crashes are covered but be assured we will treat it for what it is, a serious piece of art and yes you should go see it. Seeing it on display at PAM it looks like there wont be an annoying line where you are queued up like some amusement park ride. Besides, Bacon was completely unlike Rothko, who would have abhorred all of this attention and speculation. In fact, Francis Bacon thrived on all of the drama and I see it as keeping the spirit of his work alive (obscene and elegant at the same time). Other paintings are already more expensive and this one is definitely off the market so that value based discussion is moot. What is great is that Portland has it and it raises the bar.
In many ways it is arch-typical of Bacon's best mobius-strip type serialized portraits and plays nicely with the upcoming NW Film Festival, which takes in February... one room over. I wont get into a detailed discussion now but the original frames and raw wood spacers (which picks up some of greenish greys in the paintings are also nice details worth noting).
Overall, the discussion of the market may be a distraction but without it the three may never have been reunited and museums have always been a kind of buffer zone between collectors and the public (its not like this exhibition really changes anything about the discussion of wealth and art, it is much the same as it ever was). In Portland's case we are simply lucky to have some great pieces on view when we otherwise might not have something of similar stature. Use it as an excuse to go to the museum if nothing else. They are exceptionally good paintings and auction results have little bearing on the actual viewing experience, except perhaps prompt people to pay more attention.
Also art lovers, check out the nice Frank Auerbach that PAM was given earlier this year. It is also on display, just a few floors up in the Jubitz Center.
Bacon always seems to me to have been embarrassed to be thought merely an "artist". freud ought to have been a little shame-faced about it too, but for other reasons... like, not being capable of being more than a society decorator. maybe painting freud was just too easy for bacon, a fellow fashionable hack, and that's why this work is so underwhelming. like, i'm having the same problem with a yellow sort of like the yellow in this one, but i'm trying to do something with it so that it's not just a frame behind my figure... i'd like it to be more of the figure itself, spread the figure into other dimensions, where the yellow is another dimension and the figure is the frame. i think bacon has to make too much of the person he's painting and is afraid people will think he's a hack for just making a society portrait. look at picasso's society portraits... picasso simply used his classical training to make another kind of picasso... he had no shame. bacon's supposed to always be dying of shame, but he could have painted his way out of that if he'd had decent critics.
it's really always possible to become a painter, but very hard to find an effective style projecting your own nature, and not imitating what's being shown in art galleries... Or, in this case, maybe it's just that a painter in england has to be a peer before people say nice things about them... and, every englishman or woman wants to have nice things said about them...
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