the process is the artwork

‘How can I make this image more immediately real to myself?’


Francis Bacon
Three Studies for a Self-Portrait.

FB: (…) chance – or what I call accident – takes over. And if anything ever does work in my case, it works from that moment when consciously I don’t know what I’m doing.
DS: When you say ‘chance’, you mean something more than improvisation? You mean as if you’re really working without making conscious decisions?
FB: They’re certainly not conscious decisions.
DS: What are you thinking about? How do you suspend the operation of rational decisions?
FB: At that moment, I’m thinking about nothing but how hopeless and impossible this thing is to achieve, and by making these marks, about which I don’t know how they will behave, suddenly there comes something which your instincts seizes on as being for a moment the thing by which it could begin to develop.

“It’s true that when you go into a butcher’s shop, you see the beauty of the meat (…), but when you think about it also, you could think of the whole horror of life, of one thing living of another, and the natural pattern of life and the natural sequence of life.


I’ve always hoped to put over things as directly and rawly as I possibly can and perhaps, if things come across directly, they [people] feel that that’s horrific. Even if you say something very directly to somebody about something, they are sometimes offended although it is a fact, because people tend to be offended by facts – or what used to be called truth.


‘How can I make this image more immediately real to myself?’, that’s all. (…) I think most painters are actually (…) attempting to bring over the image that they want to record, as strongly and as immediately as possible onto the nervous system.


Painting is a dual performance – for instance if you look at a Rembrandt painting, I feel I know very much more about Rembrandt than I do about the sitter.


As man realizes that he is an accident (…) that he is a completely futile being, that he has to play out the game without reason (..) man can only attempt to make something very positive by trying to beguile himself for a time by the way he behaves (…) You see, painting, or all art has become a game by which man distracts himself. What is fascinating actually is that it is going to become much more difficult for the artist because he must really deepen the game to be any good at all and return the onlook onto life more violently.”

– Francis Bacon (transcript from: Francis Bacon Fragments of a Portrait – interview by David Sylvester, ref)

3 responses

  1. It’s easy: Add more dogs.

    July 31, 2015 at 2:27 pm

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