Sunday, April 7, 2013

Postwar Expressionism- Francis Bacon

Postwar expressionism in Europe was an art movement characterized by the devastation, despair, disillusionment, and cynicism after WWII. Many European artists during this time began reflecting on the philosophy of existentialism which questioned human existence and the impossibility of achieving certitude. In addition to the existentialism movement, many Europeans began to question the existence of a God after such carnal warfare, and an increase in the atheists was also seen during the time period. 

Francis Bacon’s Painting, best describes the feelings of most Europeans after WWII. Painting depicts a carnal illustration of a large man, whose face is hidden under a large black umbrella. The sinister smile of the man, and the red smeared across the top of his lips, is the only portion of face that is visible to the viewer. Above and around him are dead carcasses. The image suggests that the man is a carnivore and has devoured the meat raw. The majority of colors in this painting are a variety of reds and blacks. Critics read the painting as an “indictment of humanity and a reflection of war’s butchery.” (Gardner 1035). Analysts also hypothesize that the figure is most likely a depiction of a central political figure during the war (i.e. Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Benito Mussolini, Franklin Roosevelt, or Neville Chamberlain).

The many hues of red and black along with the rapid brushstrokes made it difficult for me to make out the painting at first. The only thing that was instantly clear was the hanging carcass, which I feel is an accurate representation of any war- the only thing that is clear, is the death war brings.

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