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Francis Bacon/Bruce Nauman. Face to face. Musée Fabre (2017)

Musée Fabre, Montpellier. 01 July 2017-05 November 2017

Excerpt from the introduction by Cécile Debray



This proposal for a dialogue between two major artists, Francis Bacon and Bruce Nauman, has its source in the memory of a visual emotion. While visiting the collections of a European modern and contemporary art museum, I was particularly struck by a room in which a triptych by Bacon and a carousel by Nauman were facing each other. The painting of one artist was suddenly, brutally visible, one could almost say nakedly present, without the frills of a luxurious painting immersed in a precious and decorative expressionism; the other artist's sculpture was moored in a chain of new aesthetic and poetic asso­ciations, opening onto an innovative dialogue with painting. When exploring this unexpected opposition further, certain themes stood out clearly: the cage, the ring, the animal, and the scream, as well as procedures and postures: chance, collage, detachment, the engagement of bodies and that of the viewer, from which the relevance and the strength of these two works could be formulated and respond one to the other. 
Francis Bacon and Bruce Nauman are two artists from different generations. They have developed works in equally different artistic contexts; one as a British painter, playing with references to a pictorial and cinematographic tradition in order to undermine them in a singular form of expressionism; the other an important American performance artist, working with video and then sculpture and installation, in a conceptual approach which questions language and the body.' 

exhibition catalogue, co-édition Musée Fabre / Couleurs Contemporaines, Bernard Chauveau Editions


General Curator: Michel Hilaire, General Curator of Artistic Heritage, Director of the Musée Fabre, Montpellier

Curator and Scientific Direction: Cécile Debray, Chief Curator, Curator of Modern Collections, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne / Centre de création industrielle