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Posted on 2024-04-17 04:05:05 in EVENTS



Back in September 2023, we hosted an event at King’s College London on ‘Bacon, Philosophy, and Psychoanalysis’. The event was a collaborative effort between the Estate of Francis Bacon and KCL’s Centre for Philosophy and Art. Dr. Ben Ware, from KCL, chaired the day-long event which included the following sessions.


'Bacon's Corpus' - Dr. Darren Ambrose


During the first talk, Ambrose, an independent scholar and artist, looked at Bacon's art in relation to the concepts formulated by French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy. The title of Ambrose's presentation, 'Bacon's Corpus,' draws inspiration from Nancy's seminal work 'Corpus' (Paris: Métailié, 1992; English translation: New York: Fordham University Press, 2008).


Detail of Figure with Meat, 1954 (Cat. no. 54-14)


'Francis Bacon: Decadent?' - Professor Sacha Golob


Chaired by Dr Vanessa Brassey of KCL, Golob explored whether Francis Bacon should be considered decadent, moving beyond simplistic biographical criteria to analyse how decadence is manifested in Bacon's artworks.


He examined various definitions of decadence, focusing on two key aspects: the decadence of aesthetic experience, influenced by Walter Pater, and the concept of 'naysaying to life', inspired by Nietzsche.


The video also features audience questions, along with comments from Dr. Ben Ware (the event chair) and Dr. Darren Ambrose.



‘Bacon: Art, Movement, Thought’ - Prof. Rohit Goel


Goel, from the Bombay Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR), considered movement in Bacon's work and talked about how Bacon recorded the effects of movement, referencing Gilles Deleuze's statements such as how painting 'incites movement'. 


Goel discussed how, in interviews with David Sylvester, Bacon relayed his thoughts on this, for instance when Bacon says, "To me, the mystery of painting today is how can appearance be made. I know it can be illustrated, I know it can be photographed. But how can this thing be made so that you catch the mystery of appearance within the mystery of the making?"



‘Francis Bacon’s Eyes: Blindness, Portraiture, and the Derangement of the Senses' - Professor Dany Nobus. 


Professor Dany Nobus of Brunel University, London, discussed Bacon's self-analysis through art. Referencing Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Nobus explored ten modalities of what he terms 'blindness' and the idea of "deranging the senses". 


Chaired by Professor Sacha Golob the event sparked some engaging discussions, including with Alenka Zupančič.

'On Series and Doubles' - Professor Alenka Zupančič's


We were joined for our final presentation by Lacanian philosopher and social theorist, Professor Alenka Zupančič. She discussed figures that go beyond typical representation, fragmentation and how Bacon could be considered a realist. 


She then shifted her attention to Doubles / ‘double images’ or ‘coupled figures’. She explored anxiety, fear of death and the concept of the double as immortal. 


Following the talk, Dr Ben Ware and Prof. Dany Nobus led an exciting discussion.




If you would like to view any of the talks, please see our YouTube playlist.


For those keen on further insights from the speakers we recommend the book Francis Bacon: Painting, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis which features essays from them.


Francis bacon The estate of francis bacon The estate of francis bacon