Electric Pope

Electric Pope


Francis Bacon (1909 - 1992) was an abstract British painter who specialized in bleak triptychs often depicting religious subject matter.  Much of his work was developed purposefully along a single subject.  Paintings show lone central figures trapped within geometrical cages against surrealist backgrounds.  Prolific and unapologetic, Bacon was also a prominent homosexual in British culture at a time when this was considered highly controversial.  

"Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X" (1952), as seen on this shirt, is Bacon's creative recreation of Diego Velázquez's 1650 classical work "Portrait of Pope Innocent X."  The painting is primarily intended as an experiment in color; Bacon insisted that there was no anti-religious intent in his work.  Bacon's pope screams, yet he is "silenced" by harsh, vertical drapes rendered in transparent hues.  Many of Bacon's other paintings throughout the 1940s and 1950s are also inspired by Velázquez's pope, with a similar composition and subject matter.  Bacon's ongoing obsession with papal themes, rendered with existentialist agony, suggest a deeper conflict between the artist and authority figures, whom he depicts as vulnerable and isolated.

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