Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Friday, October 2, 2009

Parallels between Francis Bacon's painting and the Jewish Museum in Berlin by Libeskind

 Portrait of George Dyer talking. Francis Bacon. Internet download

Three studies for a crucifixion. Francis Bacon. Internet Download.

Francis Bacon (28 October 1909 – 28 April 1992) was an Irish-born British figurative painter. His artwork is known for its violent or nightmarish imagery, which typically shows room-bound masculine figures isolated in glass or steel geometrical cages set against flat, nondescript backgrounds.

When people think of Francis Bacon, most of them feel the torment of torqued, wailing, screaming, headless, chinless figures, from world and his personal history.
The sense of Human tragedy and bestial elements are shown ambiguous by their respective deformation. We would fail while trying to deduct the prior morphology of the bodies by logic. They are not communicating anything intelligible. The distorted figures lay in glaringly lit rooms, which suggest both the luxury apartment and the execution chamber. The space is perceived more at the psychic than logical level.
The paintings deal with the loss of self, but the construction of self is made by the view of the other. The painting needs an interaction of all participants.
Bacon’s works, specially when he uses triptychs are seen as narratives, one story follows the other in temporal spatial continuity. The scenes belong to the same fabula.
It is difficult to see what part of the painting is hurting the observer so deeply; but other works of art, literature, architecture, produce the same effect:
Distortion of bodies or deconstruction of the standard body (standard building-writing)
Disolution of boundaries
Pains and screamings
Play with life and death
Importance of the image of the subject who has to die. In contrast, this is the representation of real life.
Mortification of the viewer.
Here we see a parallel with the Jewish Museum building designed by architect Daniel Libeskind in Berlin. It is intended to be in the form of a deconstructed Star of David. The only windows are the angular slits on the sides of the building, so sharp that are felt as scars or injuries. The surface of the building is covered with polished metal facing; there is no door into the exhibits (entry is through a tunnel from the Baroque building of the former Berlin’s Superior Court next door) which reminds me of the steel and glass “non place” of Bacon’s spaces.

Museum of the Jewish by Daniel Libeskind. Internet download.
The "axis of the Holocaust" intersects with the "axis of exile." It represents the deportation of the German Jews which first began in 1940. The "axis of Exile" leads outside to the garden of 49 stone columns, where there is no exit from the garden. Holocaust’s history is understood by walking through one hallway to the other. This is its narrative.

Axis of Houlocaust
The whole building is designed to be scary, the visitors are provoked with the war “horrors”. There are no guided tours and visitors may walk about freely, although there are attendants on duty, ready to answer any question.
One of the towers, the Holocaust Tower, is completely an empty space in dim light with no windows. The metal door to this tower is very heavy and an attendant stands outside, ready to assist visitors with opening the door, as it would be easy for someone to panic while inside.
The Memory Void tower is empty except for the "Fallen Leaves" which represent the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, in iron silohuettes with screaming faces.

Detail of Pope's screaming head, by Francis Bacon. Internet download

"Fallen leaves" in the Memory Void Tower. Internet download.

Detail of "Fallen leaves". Internet download.
The works of Francis Bacon and this particular Museum have signs that produce meanings in the interactions with the viewer. These signs are often in details which include representational elements: body parts, “fallen leaves”, dress, gazes, etc. but also distortions in their elements, bodies, space and architectural geometries and their representations. In Libeskind’s geometrical cage is even more notorious for being a deconstructivist building attached to a historical barroque one. There is a conceptual relationship between this building and Bacon’s paintings, with the authors’ personal histories also embodied in them.

Adjacent barroque building. Internet download

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