Michel Leiris and Francis Bacon: a portrait

Francis Bacon Painting are alive and well! As much as I keep reading and looking at book documents listen to interviews, Francis Bacon’s work has reminiscences of a cornucopia. Every so often a new painting becomes visible to me and with it, weaving lives, people and arts  marvellously connecting to the research I am carrying on between Butoh dance, Francis Bacon and Gilles Deleuze.

Francis Bacon’s Leiris portrait will be on show in Paris at the centre Pompidou in 2015, more information can be read here:  www.francis-bacon.com/blog/

Below are snippets of what Leiris wrote about Bacon, some information on Leiris work, and under references you can find links and a pdf with Leiris interview.

Michel Leiris wrote on Bacon in 1983. This is a comment of Bacon’s work:

‘As an authentic expression of Western man in our time Francis Bacon’s work conveys, in the admirably Nietzschean formula he himself has coined to explain the sort of man and artist he is, an “exhilarated despair”, and so – however resolutely it may avoid anything in the nature of sermonising – it cannot but reflect the painful yet lyrical disturbance felt by all those who, living in these times of horror spangled with enchantment, can contemplate them with lucidity … Although the artist himself declares he has no message to deliver, I have found from personal experience that his pictures help us, most powerfully, to feel the sheer fact of existence as it is sensed by a man without illusions.’ There is something here of the pride of a man relishing a particularly smelly cheese which others at the table have not the stomach for. Peter Fuller thinks Bacon is lacking more than illusions: ‘Bacon emerges from his many interviews as a man with no religious beliefs, no secular ethical values, no faith in human relationships and no meaningful social or political values either … he is not so much honest as appallingly frank.’ A cad, in fact, and no matter how good he is at painting he will need to answer some stiff questions about value and meaning if he is to avoid being sent up for gratuitous violence.*

In my anthropology days of academia, I came across Michel Leiris and remembered his interesting life, of how as a writer/poet part of the Surrealist movement.

Here a snippet on his work:

In ”The Autobiographer as Torero,” which was originally written as a prefatory essay to ”Manhood” but became popular in its own right, Mr. Leiris compared the process of writing to a bullfight and likened the writer to a matador. He admitted that he had an obsessive desire to make literature ”into an act, a drama by which I insist on incurring, positively, a risk – as if this risk were the necessary condition for my self-realization as a man.”

Among his other works were the studies ”Race and Culture” in 1951 and ”Contacts With the Civilizations in Martinique and in Guadeloupe” in 1955, both for Unesco, and ”Nights as Day, Days as Night” in 1988.

Other writings included ”Picasso and the Human Comedy” (1955), ”Fibrilles” (1966); ”African Art” (1968) and ”Francis Bacon” (1983).

Well known and highly respected in France, Mr. Leiris avoided public attention in his later years and refused to accept the National Grand Prize of Letters in 1980. He said he did not want to be a topic for the media* *




full details and image of the portrait:  www.francis-bacon.com/blog/

Read here the full interview entrevista current anthropology Michel Leiris

Published by ambra gatto bergamasco

Artist dancer Processual Choreographer Corporeal Dramaturg; Butoh dancer and teacher; Moving Bodies Festival Director and curator, Artistic Director of Compagnia Sperimentale Drammatica/ Espace Productions. Research: Cultural Anthropology_Urban Geography_Art and Geography_Cartography_Score_SiteSpecific_Mental Health_Humans_Ecosystems_Embodied Politics Economies of culture and culture economy

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