Florence – Francis Bacon: “Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art,” Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina, through January 27th, 2013

November 20th, 2012

Annegret Soltau (b. 1946), NY Faces, chirurgische Operationen, 2001-2002, 51 x 51 cm, photo restitching, © Annegret Soltau

A series of paintings by Francis Bacon curated into dialogue with 5 internationally-acclaimed contemporary artists (Swedish Nathalie Djurberg, Romanian Adrian Ghenie, Italian Arcangelo Sassolino, Japanese Chiharu Shiota, and German Annegret Soltau) opened at the Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina (CCCS) in Florence, Italy on October 5th, 2012 and will remain on view until the end of January 2013.

Francis Bacon (1909-1992), Seated Figure, 1974, Oil and pastel on canvas, 205 x 154 cm, Private Collection, © The Estate of Francis Bacon, All rights reserved. DACS, London 2012

Curators Franziska Nori of the CCCS gallery and Barbara Dawson of  Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane aim to explore the idea of artistic existentialism within today’s society. Both the contemporary work and the presented selection from Francis Bacon depict the human figure, as an examination of “today’s existential state of societal mind.”

Arcangelo Sassolino (b. 1967), Senza titolo, 2006-2007, Mixed material, variable dimensions , Photo: Fausto Caliari e Federico Perezzani, Courtesy of the Artist

Bacon’s paintings of distorted, undefined human figures are displayed alongside photographs and archival material (images from books, magazines, as well as photographic portraits and reproductions of old masters) found in Bacon’s studio. The display of these materials for the exhibition is possible because of the collaboration between the CCCS and Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, of which co-curator Barbara Dawson is the director (In 1998, The Dublin gallery acquired an accurate reconstruction of Bacon’s last London workshop). Part of this display from Bacon’s studio are also 4 unfinished works, thought to be his last, which have never before been shown in Italy.

Chiharu Shiota (b. 1972), Memory of Books, 2011, Mixed material, Site specific installation, Photo: Sunhi Mang (Venice Biennale 2011), © Chiharu Shiota. All Rights Reserved

These unfinished works and the archival materials provide another layer of Existentialism, a philosophical approach focusing on the individual as a possessor of both the power of free will and the responsibility for his or her own personal development. The inclusion of the items in Bacon’s studio and the autobiographical materials highlight this theme of personal (in this case, artistic) development as a result of free will and active (in this case, creative) choice.

Comparisons made between Bacon’s work and the contemporary art shown include similarities in form (“mingling of the figurative and the abstract”), as well as content (“bodies transfigured”) and theme (“tension and isolation as metaphors of man’s life”).

Chiharu Shiota (b. 1972), In Silence, 2008, Black wool, burnt grand piano, Site specific installation, Centre PasquArt, Biel/Bienne, Photo: Sunhi Mang, © Chiharu Shiota. All Rights Reserved

Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art is organized by the CCCS in conjunction with the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, and will be open Tuesday to Sunday, through January 27th, 2013.


Related Links:

Exhibition Page [Francis Bacon, CCCS]
[Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane]