There would be many reasons to like this book. The Goncourt Prize winner Jonathan Littell, known here as the author of the novel The Kindly Ones, dedicated to three ambitious essays in the painter Francis Bacon and its idiosyncratic imagery. Although Littell is neither an art critic nor an art historian, he has the best qualifications. He is a curious and well-informed amateur, his subject brings to devotional interest. His prose is at the height of what has dramatically as to offer contemporary art, stylistically. And he is aware of the difficulties with which one is confronted as an interpreter, if one is dealing with such a monomaniac and enigmatic work whose creator was not only a talented artist but also a notorious self-promoter and Mythagoge.
Bacon, as Littell, had with all the red herrings, which he had placed in his career, to force his audience to "give up all thoughts of a statement and instead turn to the images and patient to learn to read them." In the same spirit Littell tries to always back to tie his interpretation efforts directly to the concrete encounter with Bacon's works: "Take the time to thoroughly look at the pictures, whether alone in a gallery, in the midst of a lot of visitors who stick to their audio-speakers , or even in front of the reproductions in a catalog or on a computer screen: one look at her long, patiently go from one image to another and back: Very slowly we will see how the color thinks ".
The book has its strongest moments where the author adheres to his own creed. "In a great self-portrait from 1969," he writes about in one place, "the face of the blue-green of the (very cold) background is offset by delicate lines in warm orange and pink, the shirt or the jacket is flat, shown without depth, but the collar, brown with dark green coloration, such as the blue T-shirt stands out from the cyan out, just below it, because its color is much warmer, while the shoulders, also warm, but consisting of unpainted, raw canvas, even lift it out of the blue-green, but withdraw from the collar, so all the clothes wins subtly depth and defines, together with the brown head of hair at the top of the screen (brown color on raw, here and there a translucent screen), a shallow space in which the head – in a mix of warm and cold colors painted (with sprinklings of blue-greens), which either divide a fast in broad strokes, thick and swirling applied layer washed-out colors or be forced into it -. occurred suddenly "
Passages such as this, in which mesh description and analysis happy, can be found in the ribbon a few. Nevertheless, or perhaps better, that is why the total reading is a big disappointment. Instead of developing the specifics of Bacon's painting from the detailed description out, Littell is content that is usually so to sing to revered Master emphatically: "In a painting by Bacon, we do not see how a body looks, which is something he no interest had, but what a body feels what he feels in his own skin and with his bones and tendons, while he is doing whatever he is doing at a given moment – whether he goes, stands, smokes, craps, fucks, on in agony a mattress overcomes, in despair sitting on a chair, dies That made Bacon then the greatest painters of the flesh since Rembrandt (perhaps next to Rubens, but I do not particularly Rubens; Bacon also do not like him the way). "With patient depression in the. "Think of the color" this kind of approach has certainly nothing to do. This is rather cheap Auratisierungsprosa, fan fiction, which holds no distance from their subject matter, but rather blithely drauflosbehauptet and thereby relies on crude kitchen Psychology and stale KÃ¼nstlertopoi.
"He took his time," says elsewhere about the great painters of the flesh, who was also known as a big-driven, "until he began to paint seriously, he was almost forty, and until he created his greatest works, almost sixty ., but in these works he incorporated everything he had in it: his infinite passion of the life, his passion for skin, flesh and color, his frailty, his desire and his guilt feelings, his rage and his conflicting desires "desire. guilt and rage, there must almost inevitably come out great art: "Judging by these pictures, Bacon must have felt immense pain and anger, rage, because Dyer (George Dyer, Bacon's life companion and model, ed) him so had left, and pity, guilt, of course,. violent, contradictory feelings, which he tried to be clear by means of painting and he also knew how slowly – through painting, the only language he really knew "
No less annoying are the many gossipy digressions that should not contribute to the topic, but simply to illustrate how diligently to Littell has read into the relevant secondary literature. When he uses indeed plentiful, but unfortunately also plenty indiscriminately. The fact that is never quite clear where he references the other theses and where he is liable for his own, fits into the overall picture. This is how Littell art literary Miniaturtriptychon about by far the largest haul as little pleasing mix of devout panegyric, ostentatious emotion and an intellectual Windmacherei that simply turns sometimes in satire: "What did the umbrella then look there I can think of no easy explanation for it? one, and when I once sat after lunch on my sunlit terrace and tried to read an essay on Brueghel, and I back and forth moved my chair impatiently, so that the head in the shade of a large parasol was while my legs from the sun warmed were, I suddenly asked me whether Bacon's Umbrellas not simply serve to make the heads in the dark. "
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