Francis Bacon’s Muse – Isabel Rawsthrone

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You may think something is wrong with this person’s face… but it is Francis Bacon’s way of creating a portrait – which can be found in the TATE (Modern). It is a portrait of Isabel Rawsthrone. Bacon and Rawsthrone were close friends and after Rawsthorne’s death in 1992 Bacon admitted they had an AFFAIR (even though he was gay – apparently – who knows, who cares, but tres scandalous). In a statement to Paris Match confessed, “You know I also made love to Isabel Rawsthrone, a very beautiful woman who was Derain’s model and Georges Bataille’s girlfriend.” As such, unlike any of his other female sitters of which could only be counted on one hand, Rawsthorne became his MUSE.

Bacon had no FORMAL training. Bacon’s earlier portraits were created by means of having his subject present. His portraits beginning in the 1960s were developed based off of photographs and focused in on facial features. Bacon only painted those who he knew intimately – Lucian FREUD, George Dyer, Henrietta Moreas, Muriel Belcher, and Isabel Rawsthrone to name a few.

While his brilliant portraits evolved from photographs taken by John Deakin, the final result was one that which could be described as phenomenological – the idea that his paintings go beyond the physical attributes of the exterior and exemplify inner truths.

Bacon’s portraits could further be understood as influenced from Surrealism and Abstraction, where a duality exists within each painting: between thought and form, life and death. Nevertheless, Bacon captures Rawsthrone’s physicality such as her arched brows, high forehead, and accentuated cheek bones; however, he has done so in an intriguing way that navigates the cusp of abstraction and figuration in relinquishing the human form through his distorted yet incredibly powerful techniques of portrayal. Bacon elaborates in his discussion with Sylvester, “What I want to do is distort the thing far beyond the appearance, but in the distortion to bring it back to a recording of the appearance.”

The artist’s ENERGETIC brush strokes are contrasted with smudged contours and blurred boundaries as if he is trying to reveal an open form that is trapped within its own subsistence. Bacon removes screens and veils to uncover truths about existence through fusing the notions of paint and the idea against a stark background, which brings the portrait to appear to have a floating appearance. The artist’s work of his dear friends in the 1960s exhibit and suggest a psychological rendering.

Check out this work at our FAVOURITE museum in London – Tate Modern. Embrace those around you. Find your muse. Go with the flow.

XX, DP

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