18
Dec
09

Exhibition: ‘Caravaggio – Bacon’ at Gallery Borghese, Rome

2nd October 2009 – 24th January 2010

.

Two of my favourite artists together for the first time!

Individually they are dazzling but the curatorial nous to bring these two great painters together – fantastic.
Imagine going back to the time of Caravaggio – his paintings in the churches of the powerful (not the rich, see, because the rich can never enter the kingdom of heaven) –  lit by candlelight, all huge thrusting buttocks at eye level as you enter, the rich velvety colours, the drama, the dirty feet, the voluptuous forms stretched across the canvas.

Now imagine taking Bacon back to the same period. His sinuous, tortured bodies lit by candlelight – no a single electric light bulb (remember!) – innards spreading effusively, effluently along the floor. Can you imagine the gloomy interiors with Bacon’s figures looming out of the darkness? His ‘Head VI’ screaming in the darkness …

Instinctively, intellectually we know how the paintings of a Baroque artist of the early 17th century affect how we look at the paintings of Bacon. This exhibition offers the reverse, in fact it rewrites how we look at Caravaggio – through the benediction of Bacon. Those rough house homosexuals sure knew a thing or two about painting, flesh, desire and the eroticism of the human body. God bless em!

.

PS. I have arranged the paintings below to illustrate some of the confluences and divergences between the two great artists, hopefully much as the actual exhibition will have done.

.

.

.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
‘The Conversion of Saint Paul’
c.1600/01

.

.

Francis Bacon
‘Study of George Dyer’
1969

.

.

Francis Bacon
Central panel of the ‘Triptych of George Dyer’
1973

.

.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
‘Saint John the Baptist’
1604

.

.

“I have always aspired to express myself in the most direct and crudest way possible, and maybe, if something is transmitted directly, people find it horrifying. Because, if you say something in the most direct way to a person, the latter sometimes takes offence, even if what you said is a fact. Because people tend to take offence at facts, or at what was once called truth.”

.

This is how the Irish genius Francis Bacon justified his modus operandi, his propensity for a disquieting and sometimes grotesque distortion of the form. His works, placed next to those of another “damned” painter of the history of art, the great Caravaggio, will be exhibited from 1st October 2009 to 24th January 2010 at the Galleria Borghese in Rome. On the occasion of the fourth centenary of Caravaggio’s death, and of the centenary of Bacon’s birth, the figures of these eccentric artists, who are considered excessive – each one in their own way in their own period – are interweaved and narrated for the first time at the Galleria Borghese, which will also have prestigious loans from the most important museums in the world. By Caravaggio, already familiar with the Galleria Borghese thanks to his relation with cardinal Scipione Borghese, six masterpieces will be on view, synthesising his entire production: Boy with basket of fruit, Sick little Bacchus, Madonna and Child with St. Anne (dei Palafrenieri), David with the head of Goliath, Saint Jerome writing and Saint John the Baptist. Other key works of his artistic career will be added to these pieces of the permanent collection: Peter’s denial (Metropolitan in New York), Saul’s fall (Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome), The Martyrdom of St. Orsola (Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano in Naples) and the Portrait of Antonio Martelli, Knight of Malta (Palazzo Pitti). About twenty works by Bacon, loaned by the most prestigious museums, will be placed next to Caravaggio’s masterpieces.

The exhibition has the objective, with an unusual style and combining for the first time the two authors, not so much to immerse visitors in a historical-critical reconstruction, as much as to suggest an alternative aesthetic experience generated by the confrontation between the two expressive idioms which are so far yet so close. To tell the truth, the comparison between the two artists betrays Bacon’s grammar, as he did not love to be measured against the great masters of the past, even with those he esteemed the most: he ingeniously looked at the great “pillars” of the history of art filtering them through photography, which convulsively stimulated his perception and guided his creativity, until he conceived works that were very far from their original source of inspiration. Yet Caravaggio and Francis Bacon have something in common: in their linguistic, formal and temporal diversity they are both undisputed paladins of the human figure, they were able to seize the arcane undertones of life and art, and translate them into representations of ruthless frankness. Through the truth of flesh, what emerges are existential anxieties and a careful analysis of the human soul. In Caravaggio it happens thanks to his realism taken to obsession, in which the rigorous plasticity of bodies and theatrical illumination do not reveal only pleasant and harmonious shapes, they do not spare the spectators’ eyes from the crudeness of the distressing and deformed aspect of a subject. For Bacon physical deformation is enslaved to the ferocious narration of the human condition. Therefore, the password of this “strange couple” of artists is “truth,” of purposes and/or of means …

.

.

Francis Bacon
‘Triptyph’
August 1972

.

.

Francis Bacon
‘Triptych of George Dyer’
1973

.

.

Francis Bacon
‘Triptych in Memory of George Dyer’
1971

.

.

Therefore, the true stars of the exhibition are the spectators, it is up to them to contemplate the works and find links and discrepancies between the two artists, according to their own sensibility and regardless of the conditions originally foreseen by the painters for their creations. Those pieces live, in the museum context of Villa Borghese, an autonomous existence, free from their first generated status.  The exhibition “Caravaggio – Bacon” is curated by Anna Coliva, Director of the Galleria Borghese, Claudio Strinati, Special Superintendent for the PSAE and for the Museum Pole of the city of Rome and by Michael Peppiatt, biographer and close friend who knew very well Francis Bacon, organised by MondoMostre and made possible thanks to the support of BG Italia, ENEL and Vodafone.”

Press release from the Gallery Borghese website

.

.

Francis Bacon
‘Head VI’
1949

.

.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
‘Boy with a Basket of Fruit’
c.1593-1594

.

.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
‘Madonna and Child with St. Anne (dei Palafrenieri)’
1606

.

.

Francis Bacon
Central panel of the ‘Triptych in Memory of George Dyer’
1971

.

.

Francis Bacon
Right panel of the ‘Triptych in Memory of George Dyer’
1971

.

.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
‘The portrait of Antonio Martelli, Knight of Malta’
1608-09

.

.

Galleria Borghese
Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5

Opening hours:
Monday 13:00 – 19:00
from Tuesday to the Saturday 9:00 – 21:00
Sunday 9,00 – 19:00

Caravaggio – Bacon website

Gallery Borghese website

Bookmark and Share


0 Responses to “Exhibition: ‘Caravaggio – Bacon’ at Gallery Borghese, Rome”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

Join 2,496 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Lastest tweets

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

December 2009
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Jan »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Archives

Categories


%d bloggers like this: