Via A Piece of Monologue, I note this link to Linda Nochlin, Milan Kundera and others on Francis Bacon, an article taken from the latest issue of Tate etc magazine.
For a long time, Francis Bacon and Samuel Beckett made up a couple in my imaginary gallery of modern art. Then I read the interview Bacon did with Michel Archimbaud: “I’ve always been amazed by this pairing of Beckett and me,” Bacon said. “I’ve always felt that Shakespeare expressed much better and more precisely and more powerfully what Beckett and Joyce were trying to say.” And then later: “I wonder if Beckett’s ideas about his art haven’t wound up killing off his creation. There’s something at once too systematic and too intelligent in him, that may be what’s always bothered me.” And again: “In painting, we always leave in too much that is habit, we never eliminate enough, but in Beckett I’ve often had the sense that as a result of seeking to eliminate, nothing was left any more, and that nothingness finally sounded hollow.”
When one artist talks about another one, he is always talking (indirectly, in a roundabout way) of himself. In talking about Beckett, what is Bacon telling us about himself? That he is refusing to be categorised. That he wants to protect his work against clichés. Next: that he is resisting the dogmatists of modernism who have erected a barrier between tradition and modern art as if, in the history of art, the latter represented an isolated period with its own incomparable values, with its completely autonomous criteria. Whereas Bacon looks to the history of art in its entirety; the twentieth century does not cancel our debts to Shakespeare (more...)