Archive for francis bacon

Goodbye Lucian Freud

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2011 by echostains


One of my favorite artists Lucian Freud died yesterday – aged 88.   Freud, grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and brother to comedian Clement was born in Berlin 1922, moved to Brittain 1933 and became a British subject in 1939 .  His paintings have two distinct styles, the earlier ones have a more smoother surface, created with thin layers of paint, whilst  the later show a more textural impastod rendition of the flesh. 

Freud’s paintings celebrate flesh – in all its lumpiness and glory.  His work is sometimes can discribed as disturbing, but Freud has never sacrificed honesty for flattery.  The Queen’s portrait which he painted in 2002 caused a lot of controversy – some said he should have been sent to the tower for it 🙂  I think it’s absolutely wonderful as it depicts the Queen as human and ageing, and definitely not in the flattering and pandering  spirit in which most court painters throughout history have painted their monarch.  The jewels on her crown look ghostly and somewhat garish a reminder of another age (and empire) and the Queen herself looks a little put out at having her portrait painted at all.

Leigh Bowery

Freud, along with Francis Bacon and Frank Auerbach explored the human condition through paint.  His thickly applied use of impasto makes the work very tactile.  Most of the people he painted were family or people he knew-

“I paint people,not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”

Girl with a white dog

Freud has been called the foremost figurative artist of his generation.  He painted on until the end of his life.  He continued with figurative painting even when Abstract became more popular.   Freud is believed to have used Cremnitz white for his basic flesh pigment (according to critic Robert Hughes.  Apparently it is a very heavy pigment and contains twice as much of the lead oxide than flake white and a lot less oil medium than other whites.

“I don’t want any colour to be noticeable… I don’t want it to operate in the modernist sense as colour, something independent… Full, saturated colours have an emotional significance I want to avoid.”

Woman Smiling

Freud died after a short illness.  He lived an interesting life, painted a LOT of art, was married several times and had a lot of children.  His art always remained constant and central and he dedicated his life to it.  This extraordinary artist will always be remembered as one of the greatest figurative painters since the Second World War.  I have written some earlier posts about Freud ‘The Painted Queen’ and ‘Bacon by Lightbulb’

More info about this here

Freud quote from here and here

Reflection (self portrait)


Queen image from here

Leigh Bowery

Woman Smiling and Girl with dog


There’s a new post over on my BOOKSTAINS (about time too!)

Facing the Paint

Posted in ART, ART VIDEOS with tags , , , on February 8, 2011 by echostains

Face painting has been around for thousands and thousands of years.  It has been used as camouflage, used in battle to frighten the opposition, sports and used at funfairs and circus’ and religious ritual and spiritual purposes.  Indeed, the’greasepaint’, the ‘slap’ and the ‘face’ still goes on (and on our faces).  In the 1960’s ‘hippies’, the ‘flower children’ used to paint symbols on their faces and bodies, usually representing ‘peace’ or protesting against war. 


In the 80’s face painting had a resurgence and became very popular with children at fairs and amusement park and even in shopping precincts.

In this video James Kuhn makes some very interesting faces.  Some are humourous, some incredible, some work better than others, – but all are highly original.   Hours of work must have gone into making up and actually planning  the faces in this video and it is to the artist’s credit that he has never repeated himself.  My favorites are the pineapple – which really made me smile 🙂  I like the ones with the hands upon the face, the Lichtenstein woman, I thought was excellent, and Kuhn also pays reference to Dali with the ‘eyes’ face.  I really like the way the artist has painted the popcorn and the bus – the Tutankhamun is amazing!

Having enjoyed looking at that video, another video by Kuhn caught my eye.  You have to watch it!  It only last a minute, but it really made me gasp (and laugh).  There’s something very Francis Bacon about the way the artist has painted this Pitbull dog 🙂 and the music…… well I won’t spoil it for you.   Amazing – and very well done!

Both excellent Videos by bibleartwork Thanks!

Woad image from here

PLUS There’s another fantastic poem over on my Bookstains blog – Just click the button!

A life in Motion – Muybridge

Posted in ART HISTORY, ART VIDEOS with tags , , on July 18, 2010 by echostains

Eadward Muybridge


Francis Bacon was a great fan of the pioneer film photographer Eadward Muybridge  b. 1883 – 1904 (strange way of spelling Edward I know, but I believe this is the original way of spelling his name in Anglo Saxon)  Muybridge is famous for his study of motion in film. 

Bacon's Woman emptying a bowl and Paralyctic child


Though born in Surry England, he moved to the USA when he was a young man and in  1868 he became world renown for his Yosemite Valley, California photo’s.  He was famously hired by Leland Stanford, a railway magnate to prove that a trotting horse’s  legs all leave the ground at the same point in time.  The project was fraught with difficulties though: one of them being the lack of a fast shutter and the photographer having to be in court when he was tried for the murder of his wife’s lover.  Though acquitted, he travelled around  lot after this. 

He did eventually prove Stanford’s theory (by developing a faster shutter) and a lot of line drawings were published, taken from his photographs.  He gave many lectures, using a zoopraxiscope, which was a kind of magic lantern which projected the images onto a screen in rapid succession. 

Muybridge horse in motion


Yosemite Valley c. 1874


Apart from the animal plates, Muybridge is well-known for his study of the human form in motion.  these were published in 1887 and called ‘Animal Locomotion – An Electro Photographic investigation of consecutive phases of Animal Movement. 

Some more reading about Muybridge, his discoveries, experiments and life from here   and here
Animated Gif (racehorse) from here Yosemite valley pic from here video from autostopowicz70 (Philip Glass Photographer Act 1 ‘A Gentlemans Honour’.  Bacon image here Muybridge portrait from here

Happy Birthday Velázquez!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , on June 6, 2010 by echostains

Diego Velazquez self-portrait

Today is the birthday of  Baroque Spanish Court Painter Diego Velázquez(1599 -1660).  Velázquez was a painter to Philip IV, painting all the Royal family as well as portraits of  notables and historical scenes of significance.  Many impressionist painters and realist artists who were to come after him, were very much influenced by this artist.  He was much admired by Salvador Dali, Picasso and Francis Bacon.  Eduard Manet called him ‘The Painters painter’.  He studied under Francisco De Herrera and was apprenticed to Francisco Pancheco, whose daughter he married.

Pope Innocent X

Velázquez used very long brushes, his style employed  long brushstrokes and  harmonious  colours.  He is renown for the technique where details in the painting come into focus only when the viewer is a certain distance.   The long brushes helped the artist appreciate the  effects more readily.  He was a master of shadow and light.

Bacon's Pope

The artist studied  art in Italy in 1629 enjoying and appreciating  its antiquity.  He was especially influenced by Titian.  Besides his portrait of Pope Innocent X (1650) which is a in bolder style,  perhaps his most intriguing painting is Les Meninas which centres around the Kings daughter 5-year-old Infanta Margarita and her servants.

Les Meninas

Painted in 1656, this painting is about painting.  the artist has featured himself in the picture with his long brushes.  The back of a  canvas is shown, we can only guess at the work in progress.  The ceiling space is unusually large, creating an illusion of space and the light at the sides of the painting creates the depth.

The pretty and delicate Infanta is surrounded by her less glamorous servants.  Velázquez was fascinated by clowns and dwarves which were all part of the Royal entourage.  There are lots of little details in the painting which highlight the artist’s artistry and ingenuity – including the artist himself presenting himself as a courtier surveying the scene, perfectly at home and on good terms with the Royal family.

In his later years he painted the Rokeby Venus, the only surviving female nude by this artist.  In his lifetime he only painted about 110 – 120 known canvases but most of them became famous.  Velázquez’s painting life though is quite interesting and there are some good sites to learn about him here and here

Images: Bacon pope here, Velazuez Pope here, Les Mininas here self portrait here

Happy 10th Birthday Tate Modern!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, exhibitions, LONDON (JAUNTS) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by echostains

Tate Modern from the riverside

The month of May is nearly over and I cannot let it pass without wishing Tate Modern a Happy 10th Birthday.  I have been to the Tate Modern many times and seen quite a few exhibitions.  The Tate Modern galleries are built  in the space of Bankside Power station which closed in 1981 and the building was converted by Herzog and de Meuron: the contractors were Carillion.  It is a National Museum of International art.

Louise Bourgeois 'Maman'

In 2001 I remember seeing Maman the  gigantic spider of then 89-year-old French-born sculptress Louise Bourgeois.   The turbine hall is a colossal space  (five storeys tall with 3,400 square metres of floorspace).  the spider 30 ft high and made of blackened stainless steel  carried 26 white marble eggs underneath her belly.  She towered over people who gazed up in awe.  Another exhibition I saw at the Tate was Katherina Fritsch (b. 1956 Germany) whose sculptures reflect fairytales and myths. I wrote a post about this exhibition here.  2001 was the year I saw the Turner Prize at Tate Britain – won by Martin Creed with his famous light  which turned on and off…… 

In 2002 Anish Kapoor’s  (b. India 1954) Marsyas was the star of the Turbine Hall.  150 meters long and 10 storeys high, this sculptural form was inspired by Titian’s 1576 painting ‘The Flaying of Marsyas’.  The Greek myth tells the tale of  Marsyas, a satyr who was flayed alive by the God Apollo because he played the flute better than the God.  This sculpture ran round the Turbine Hall. 


 I wondered what would happen if someone blew through this gigantic trumpet!

Marsyas by Anish Kapoor

I was also fortunate to see the Matisse Picasso exhibition that year which I greatly enjoyed.  The way the work was juxtaposed showed the playful rivalry between the pair, each one spurred on by the other to come up with new work, new visions.  I believe Picasso needed this and at the time Matisse was the one who could give him a run for his money.  I still have a souvenir cup of that exhibition and woe betide anyone who breaks it:)

flowing hair matisse and acrobat by picasso

In 2003 I saw an exhibition by sculptor Eva Hesse  (b 1936 – 1970 Germany) exhibition at the Tate Modern.  This artist worked with string, resin and latex in her sculptures. 

Eva Hesse

 I later incorporated  into my paintings.  Apart from this fact and the feeling that the work looked stranded in its environment, I can’t remember too much about it.

Among other exhibitions the Hogarth (2007) one really stands out.  I really like Paula Rego’s transcription of Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode where the artist carries on the story of the ill-fated marriage in contemporary times.  I also chose Rego’s Snow White and her Stepmother to transcribe (see Transcription in my categories).  William Hogarth’s narrative painting fascinates me and I was very well versed in the story of the series Marriage a la Mode.  but I was amazed at just how small these paintings actually are! The details are quite astounding considering the scale of these paintings.

marriage a la mode the marriage settlement

Francis Bacon 2008 was an exhibition very much looked forward to by me.  He is a  favorite artist of mine.  We saw work there we had never seen before: works from private collections leased especially for the retrospective.  As usual the raw power of the paint rippled through the room giving the paintings a brooding presence.

Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X 1953 Bacon

 Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko had an exhibition in 2009.  We didn’t go.  A lot of people really vibrate to Rothko, but I find him very heavy and depressing.   I would have liked to have gone to Chris Offili’s exhibition this year, but we just didn’t have time.  In between Tate modern there are always other exhibitions on at Tate Britain, The Royal Academy, The National Gallery and the Barbican. 

Other important exhibitions I have been to in London include:-

Encounters 2000 National Gallery,

Frank Auerbach retrospective, The Royal Academy 2001,

 Lucien Freud retrospective,Tate Britain 2002, 

Desire unbound surrealism, Tate Modern 2002, 

  Andy Warhol retrospective, Tate Modern 2002, 

  Transition, 2002 Barbican Gallery,

  images from here here and here

Don’t forget my Blogspotlight interview here with artistatexit0

‘Books, books, books, – so many but never too many’

Posted in BOOKS! DEAR READER I READ IT with tags , , , , , , on January 21, 2010 by echostains

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

My reading is coming along great, already on page 110 of my Flashback book challenge.  As you probably know, I am tracking my findings on my other blog ‘Bookstains’.  however my reading is overtaking my writing!  Just to whet my appetite further I have found some other books which I wouldn’t mind re -reading ‘Diary of a nobody’ by George Grossmith and ‘The Gilded gutter of Francis Bacon’ (and I will write about him – he is my favorite artist of all time, so I want to do him justice).

the gilded gutter of Francis Bacon by Daniel Farson

I had a clear out the other day and was determined to get rid of some of my books.  But when it came to it, there always seemed a reason to actually keep particular ones, even though I’ve read them.  Needless to say, the ‘unwanted’ pile consisted of about 3 books.  One good thing to emerge from this, was I found some books which I hadn’t yet read!  Isn’t it fantastic when that happens!  However, the negative  side of this is where on earth is the time for this reading  coming from?

the diary of a nobody

I rarely get any time in the day to read now, my readings done mostly at night.  I am going to remedy this though, I have to.  I am going to set a time in the day especially for reading, perhaps an hour.  I will make time!

Reflections: Hibernating, Twittering and Art

Posted in ART, HOME with tags , , , , , , on November 14, 2009 by echostains

its way past your bedtime young squirell

I’ve usually wrote and scheduled my blog by this time.  Where has the day gone?  Trying to do too many things at once makes the day short.  The days are short enough with these long nights.  I wonder what our ancestors made of it?  I just want to hibernate when it gets dark and cold, squirrels have the right idea.  But I can’t afford to do that – not put enough nuts away to retire yet!

Here's one we didn't make earlier....

Still unsure if Twitter was a good idea, or a nowhere one.  I’d better keep with it I suppose.  I’m probably not making the most of it, but we will see.  It’s coming up to my blogs first anniversary at the end of this month, and I have a few changes planned for that.  So far, I have only missed 4 days, and that’s  before I got the hang of it.  HA! not that  I have got the hang of it.  Every so often half the formatting goes BIG, a bit aggravating, but at least I have stopped losing my work now.

This is Francis Bacon's studio. Seen this in Dublin....mine was getting a bit like it lol!

I’ve been priming a canvas today (bit of a while since I did that).  I don’t seem to find any time for my art these days, though I do keep creative.  I mean, getting down to the nitty-gritty of painting.  I may turn the spare bedroom into a studio, it’s a bit cold in the cellar.  That cellar has been used as band practise (by my daughter years ago), a brewery (Chateau Red Cloud…now that was a very good year! not to mention ? I’ve forgotten what the beer was called but I could taste sterilising liquid (PURE ale probably), then an art studio.  It’s now hubby’s ‘space’ but he’s never down there now he can have it to himself – typical!

Spring cleaning this blog (well, thinking about it anyway)

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, TRANSCRIPTION, WORDS AND COMMUNICATIONS, WRITING AND BLOGGING with tags , , , , on April 5, 2009 by echostains



A quick one today, as I have to go to work soon (whilst I still have a job to go to!).  I have quite a lot of stuff to be getting on with regarding this blog: it could do with a Spring clean!  I might change the format also because I have been  having trouble with the size of the script, which can be very erratic at times.   Firstly, I must do some more Altered art book pages.  Also more transcription (that is two journals stuck together, so there’s a lot of stuff in there).  I never did get round to writing about The Francis Bacon retrospective we went to before Christmas.  And I have managed to do some new work which needs to go on here.  I started this blog the end of November last year and I havn’t missed many days.  When I went to Las Vegas the other week, I did my blogs just before I went, then scheduled them to come on each day.  But I must have under estimated the time difference because one day is missed out lol!