Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Artwork I'd steal: The Screaming Pope

Whenever I go to a museum or an art gallery, I make a list of the three artworks I would steal if I were so inclined. When I go with a friend, I usually ask them to do the same - it's interesting to compare lists when we're done.

source: Wikipedia
I still remember seeing this painting for the first time, I sat staring at it for five minutes at least - and that was on my computer screen. A few years later, the Kunsthalle in Hamburg hosted a Francis Bacon exhibition and luckily, the Screaming Pope was part of it. It's big, 60x46 inches, and even more powerful in real life. I can't decide whether the pope is screaming in fear or anger, but I'm sure he would try to take you down with him if you came too close.

It's not actually called the Screaming Pope of course, the real title is Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X. Here's the original. I always thought that it was just as disturbing as the Bacon version, but on a different level. When I look at it I see an intelligent, powerful and ruthless man who is absolutely not afraid to use his powers and he's comfortable in the knowledge that we are aware of it.

Bacon has led a fascinating life. There are tons of books about him, I would recommend Anatomy of an Enigma as a starting point. If you should ever find yourself in Dublin, you can visit Bacon's immensely chaotic study that has been moved from London to Dublin and was painstakingly reconstructed.
The Artchive has more images of his work, it's a great resource for all things art, by the way.

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