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Nina Simone calls for ‘Revolution’ at the Harlem Cultural Festival, 1969
02.21.2014
12:55 pm

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Heroes
Music
Race

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Nina Simone


 
The great Civil Rights-era “High Priestess of Soul,” Nina Simone was born on this day in 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina. Simone was one of the 20th century’s greatest—and most controversial—musicians, calling for armed and violent revolution by Black people so that African Americans could form a separate state. She was made to feel quite unwelcome in Nixon’s America and disappointed by the revolutionary and political movements she had been associated with, became a citizen of the world. “America had betrayed me, betrayed my people and stamped on our hopes,” she told interviewers. “No way am I ever going to go back there and live. You get racism crossing the street, it’s in the very fabric of American society.”

When Simone did finally return to the US, in 1985, she was immediately arrested for tax evasion (she had refused to pay taxes as a protest against the war in Vietnam). She died at her home in France in 2003.

In this utterly extraordinary footage of Nina Simone performing at the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969 (“the Black Woodstock), she does her powerful song “Revolution,” of which John Lennon said in 1971:

“I thought it was interesting that Nina Simone did a sort of answer to “Revolution.” That was very good — it was sort of like “Revolution,” but not quite. That I sort of enjoyed, somebody who reacted immediately to what I had said.”

I think her idea of what sort of revolution was called for and his were quite a bit different. He was in the bag, so to speak, for peace. Simone wasn’t.

And now we got a revolution
Cause I see the face of things to come
Yeah, your Constitution
Well, my friend, it’s gonna have to bend
I’m here to tell you about destruction
Of all the evil that will have to end

[...]

Singin’ about a revolution
Because were talkin’ about a change
It’s more than just evolution
Well you know you got to clean your brain
The only way that we can stand in fact
Is when you get your foot off our back

If you want to see all of the jaw-dropping footage of Nina Simone at the Harlem Cultural Festival, they’ve pieced together her entire set over at Arthur.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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J. G. Ballard: Undermining bourgeois certainties and ‘Empire of the Sun’
02.17.2014
10:15 am

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Books
Heroes
Thinkers

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J. G. Ballard

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Writing is a very peculiar existence, J. G. Ballard told an audience during an interview for his novel Empire of the Sun, at the ICA London, in 1984.

”Unlike playwrights, composers, sculptors and painters who can go to first nights and gallery openings and alike, the writer never sees his audience. I mean, I have never in my life seen anybody reading one of my books.”

Ballard’s knowledge of his audience came from the letters he received, mainly written by teenage Science Fiction fans. He believed his audience was limited as the reading of such speculative or “imaginative fiction—which is not popular on the whole—is a very solitary business.”

”It’s an extreme fiction made out of extreme metaphors, and I think only people with that taste for extreme solutions are going to be drawn to imaginative fiction. Let’s face it, if Gulliver’s Travels or Alice in Wonderland were published for the first time now they would meet with rather a mixed response. Imaginative fiction is not popular as a whole, I don’t think.”

Ballard devoted his whole career to imaginative fiction, and was more influenced by the Surrealists than his favorite novelists Graham Greene and William Burroughs.

”I have a great built in hostility towards the realistic social novel because it does tend to accept society as it finds it. I feel it is particularly dangerous in sort of puritanical, northern European countries like this one, where there’s a polite distaste for going too far—for going anywhere at all practically.

“I have devoted my career, for what it’s worth, to undermining the bourgeois certainties wherever I can, and the bourgeois novel is target number one on my list. I see the writer’s role as important but I recognize, and one has got to be a realist, most people prefer cosy certainties of life to permanent revolution, as the Surrealists called it, but that doesn’t discourage me at all.”

Empire of the Sun was the first of Ballard’s fictional autobiographies, loosely based on his childhood experiences as a prisoner-of-war at Lunghua Civilian Assembly in Shanghai during World War II. The novel was his most successful and was filmed by Steven Spielberg in 1987. In this interview with Matthew Hoffman, Ballard briefly discusses this book, his career as a writer up to 1984, as well as giving his views on America and the rise of China.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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New Slint documentary trailer released
02.14.2014
12:11 pm

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Heroes
Movies
Music

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Slint
Lance Bangs


 
On the heels of Touch & Go’s announcement of an insanely comprehensive Slint box set comes the release of the trailer for Lance Bangs’ documentary on the band, Breadcrumb Trail. Bangs’ impressive resume includes music videos for Arcade Fire, Pavement, Kanye West, The Shins, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, and Belle & Sebastian. Slint, of course, were the band of Louisville kids who dropped a very quiet atom bomb called Spiderland in 1991. The album hugely influenced math rock, slo-core, and Post-Rock, and so had a massive impact on the independent music of the 1990s and beyond. I’ve drooled on at length about it before, so I’ll not rehash. I’ll just point you here.

One thing about the trailer that’s just killing me—I am about Slint’s members’ age, and so I was a 19-year-old kid in college when the album came out, and damn if they don’t look ridiculously young to me now. So, how’d YOU change the world before you finished school?

Per Vice, screenings of Breadcrumb Trail don’t begin until mid-March, but I’m crazy-excited to see it. I’m especially keen to see how well it complements the 33 1/3 book on the album, which is thus far the single best source of information I’ve found on the somewhat mercurial band.

Enjoy the trailer.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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King Buzzo of The Melvins announces solo acoustic tour
02.04.2014
09:27 am

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Heroes
Music

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Melvins
King Buzzo


 
Guitarist Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne of the Melvins is widely known for a brutally heavy sound that served as a major influence on post-hardcore, stoner rock and doom metal. Despite almost never having played a quiet, undistorted note in his 30-plus year career, he’s just announced a solo acoustic tour for this spring.

This has GOT to be interesting. The following dates were listed this morning on the Melvins’ official Facebook page:

Mar. 2 - Minneapolis, MN - Grumpy’s Bar & Grill
Mar. 6 - Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
Mar. 8 - Kansas City, MO - The Riot Room
Mar. 10 - Norman, OK - Opolis Production LLC
Mar. 11 - Dallas, TX - Club Dada
Mar. 13 - Austin, TX - Record Label Rummage Sale
Mar. 16 - Little Rock, AR - Stickyz Rock N’ Roll Chicken Shack
Mar. 17 - Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone
Mar. 20 - Louisville, KY - Zanzabar
Mar. 21 - Indianapolis, IN - Radio Radio
Mar. 22 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen
Mar. 23 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon

 

 
In commemoration of the tour, a 10” EP titled This Machine Kills Artists will be released by Amphetamine Reptile.

Footage of Osborne playing without amplification is unsurprisingly hard to come by, but what exists is terrific. Here he is playing an acoustic version of “Revolve” from the Melvins’ 1994 LP Stoner Witch, and talking in some depth about his process.
 

 
Bonus! Here’s Buzzo being interviewed by Fox News’ douche-god Greg Gutfeld, on the now-canceled Red Eye. You’ll cringe at Gutfeld’s name-dropping attempts to establish OG punk bona fides, but Buzzo is his usual laid-back self, and he uses the platform to inform America’s neurotically hyperpatriotic mouthbreathers about totally sweet bands they’ll never listen to, like Tweak Bird.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘In England sex is not popular’: Wit and wisdom from Quentin Crisp
01.21.2014
09:35 am

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Amusing
Heroes
Queer

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Quentin Crisp

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Ah, Quentin Crisp, what a wonderful man. Witty, intelligent, and very brave. He was out as gay in 1930s England, when such an admission was punishable by imprisonment.

Mr. Crisp described himself as “effeminate by nature,” dyed his hair, wore make-up, painted his nails, and sashayed through London’s busy streets in his open-toed sandals. This is how he described himself in the opening of The Naked Civil Servant:

“I wore make-up at a time when even on women eye shadow was sinful. From that moment on, my friends were anyone who could put up with the disgrace; my occupation, any job from which I was not given the sack; my playground, any cafe or restaurant from which I was not barred, or any street corner from which the police did not move me.”

Mr. Crisp never had a problem with who he was. No, it was only other foolish people who had a problem. Quentin presented himself as how he wanted to be seen, or as he said in this interview on CBC in 1977:

”I laid it out so everyone would know what they were getting.

“[The public] were extremely hostile. And I think it’s because they saw my difference from the rest of the world was sexual. And in England, sex is not popular. Not of any kind. No display of sex, no talk about sex was popular until the permissive society began.

When asked why he had not thought of moving to a more expressive and liberal city like Paris, Mr. Crisp replied:

“There’s no good doing it in Paris. If it causes no stir, then it covers no ground.

“I wanted to survive the stir. The idea was not to create it but to outlive it. To show that people like me had to go on living. That they had to take their laundry to the laundry, they had to eat their meals in restaurants, they had to had to go to work, they had to come back.

“This is what people had to learn.”

All these decades later, it would appear there are many people who could still learn a thing or two from Quentin Crisp.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Otis Redding gives a blistering set on ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ 1966

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On that long list of those sadly departed musicians, singers, pop stars and what-you-will, who I wish I had seen in concert, Mister Otis Redding is up near the very top. It’s not just because I like Redding, and think he had immense talent, or that his band played like “some well-oiled machine,” or that together they lit up the stage when they played, but because Otis always looked like he truly enjoyed what he was doing, and wanted the audience to enjoy it just as much as he did.

Take a watch at his appearance on Ready, Steady, Go! from 1966 and you will see what I mean. Otis gives a powerhouse performance and his guests, Eric Burdon and Chris Farlowe, both look awe-struck.

Otis begins with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” then goes into “My Girl” and “Respect,” before Eric Burdon sings “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and Chris Farlowe tries on “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” for size. Then it’s back to the main event, with Mr. Redding joined by Messrs. Burdon and Farlowe, finishing up with “Pain in My Heart,” “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” and “Shake,” which understandably gets the audience up and dancing.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Holy cosplay, Batman!’ Exact replica of the 1966 mask Adam West wore
01.06.2014
09:56 am

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Art
Fashion
Heroes
Pop Culture
Television

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Batman
Adam West


 
Cool as fuck—but bloody expensive at a whopping $1500—replica Batman mask modeled after the one Adam West wore on the 1966 TV show.

It is the only available cowl still being made from the original fabric which has been custom dyed to match a color sample from the dye house used on the show. The pattern was created by a professional pattern maker using a original cowl (from the Hardeman collection) The lightweight fiberglass shell was created using a plaster cast taken from an original as a base. Even the eyebrow paint color has been Pantone matched to the original.

Adam West refers to our Cowl as a “work of art” and is a proud owner of one of our replicas.

It’s available to purchase on Etsy by WilliamsStudio2. According to the write-up, you need to “act now as fabric is in limited supply.”

Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, Ireland’s greatest rocker, died today in 1986
01.03.2014
04:48 pm

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Heroes
Music

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Phil Lynott
Thin Lizzy

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Thin Lizzy frontman, Phil Lynott died today, 4th of January in 1986. He was just 36 years old.

Lynott had collapsed at his home after a drink and drug binge on Christmas Day. He was suffering from a serious liver and kidney infection and died eleven days later from heart-failure and pneumonia.

It was a sad end to a man who had entertained and inspired millions. Lynott was all about a good time, it’s there in his music and in the way he lived his life. At his best, his music was simple, working class rock and roll. He was also an inspiration: born and raise in difficult times, a black man in predominantly white Dublin, raised by his grandmother while his mother worked three jobs in England to support the family back home.

Lynott originally wanted to be an architect, but poor, working class lads from housing schemes aren’t allowed to be architects. Instead he was offered a job as an apprentice fitter and turner. It was a dead end job, not a future for an ambitious talent like Lynott. He gave it up for his main passion—music.

Phil first came to prominence as the good-looking singer with the Black Eagles. He then moved onto Skid Row (which later featured guitarist Gary Moore). When Phil took time out to have his tonsils removed, he was replaced as lead singer; it was only then that Lynott went on to form Thin Lizzy with Brian Downey and Eric Bell.

Fortune smiled on Phil, as when sailing from Dublin to England, he met John Peel on board the ship and told him about Thin Lizzy. Peel told him to keep in touch. It was the kind of good luck born from years of hard work that would bring Thin Lizzy massive popular success.

The Rocker: A Portrait of Phil Lynott explains why this great man was such a charismatic and inspirational figure, with a history of all his bands, and various clips from early home movies, along with excellent interview clips, this is a fitting tribute to Ireland’s greatest Rocker.
 

 
Bonus: Audio of Thin Lizzy in concert, Berlin 1973, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘The time I met Dean Martin…’ A True Story
01.01.2014
08:17 am

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Heroes
Pop Culture

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Dean Martin


 

There is a humorous recipe for “Martin Burgers” that Dean Martin came up with (grill some ground beef, pour a shot of bourbon, done!) that was posted by Letters of Note that reminded me of my own encounter with the legendary entertainer. It also involves hamburgers. And bourbon. It’s one of my favorite stories to tell. Gather ‘round, children…

This event took place in, I think, 1992, when I was 26 years old. I’d recently read Nick Tosches’ excellent biography of Martin, Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, and I was on a Dean Martin “kick” that culminated in me having a professional photo house make me a 6 ft. by 6 ft. photo mural of the above Dean Martin album cover (which Boing Boing’s Mark Fraunenfelder once described in Wired. I still have it, but it’s not hanging up).

I was absolutely fascinated by Dean Martin, the very definition of the devil-may-care roué who truly wasn’t impressed by anything or anyone. Beauty? He had more women than he knew what to do with. Fame? Come on. Money? Please! Dino didn’t care if you were the President of the United States, some hot piece of ass or the head of the Las Vegas Mafia. The man, to paraphrase the Super Furry Animals, simply did not give a fuck. Weltschmerz as an art form! Ennui deluxe! I reckon Dean Martin must’ve been the coolest man ever to live.

Janet Charlton, the Star magazine gossip columnist, seen frequently on Access Hollywood,  ET and similar shows back then, told me that Dean Martin—who was generally thought to be a complete recluse, sitting home drunk in an armchair watching movie westerns, basically—did in fact dine out nearly every night at the Hamburger Hamlet (an upscale LA burger chain) on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.

A few weeks after she told me this, Mike and Roni, two pals of mine from New York, arrived on my doorstep unannounced. They seemed quite amused by my gigantic Dean Martin album cover and when I told them that he was a regular at the Doheny Drive Hamburger Hamlet, we all three enthusiastically agreed that this was where we’d dine that evening. And we brought a camera.

I generally like the Hamburger Hamlet chain, but the one in Beverly Hills has got to be THE restaurant in LA with the oldest clientele, hands down. It’s the sort of place where grandparents take their grandchildren out to eat and the grandchildren are in their seventies. I’m talking OLD. Palm Springs old. Miami Beach old. A few of the faces seemed extremely familiar from sixties television, character actors who might have been on The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza or Green Acres, but who I could not place exactly due to the passing of years. What made walking into this place seem even more surreal is that it is merely a block away from all the rock clubs on the Sunset Strip.

So we get there and valet the car. I asked the maître d’, who must’ve been all of 19, if we could be seated near Dean Martin’s table. He took the money I put into his hand and looked at me like I was an idiot. Not a stalker mind you, but a complete idiot. “Oookay,” he whistled dismissively and rolled his eyes.

Martin was not there, he told us, but they did expect him. So we sat in the lobby and we waited. And waited. And waited. After looking at the grub the waiters were serving up, we decided he wasn’t going to show up and split to grab a steak at Dan Tana’s. As the valet handed me my car keys I asked him, “We heard that Dean Martin eats here all the time. When is a good day to see him?” He replied “Mr Martin? Oh, his chauffeur just phoned ahead, he’ll be here any minute.”

I tossed my keys back to him and we returned inside and were seated in the back section of the restaurant. Within a few minutes, the sultan of suave, secret agent Matt Helm, the roast-master general hisself, Dean Martin stumbled in, completely shit-faced. His eyes were bloodshot red and he looked old and he looked drunk. Very drunk. It was probably a very good thing that he could afford to employ a full-time driver, let’s just say…

As soon as he took his seat, the waiter slammed down several shots of bourbon and two beers in front of him. Dino downed two shots immediately and two more were placed in front of him in a flash.

We made our move before they brought his food out. Roni got her camera ready and asked politely, “Mr. Martin, can I get a picture of you with these guys? They’re big fans of yours!”

He looked at us like “Yeah, right” and replied quietly “Most of my fans these days are old broads.”

I told him about my giant 6 ft. mural of his album cover and that I was born and raised in Wheeling, WV, just across the Ohio River from Martin’s hometown of Steubenville, OH. He softened a bit and said “I remember Wheeling, WV. I used to swim there and mess around and hang out there when I was a boy.” (No matter how slowly I ask you to imagine this sentence being said, you’re going to make it faster in your mind than he spoke it. Pause after each word as if there is a period… or a wheeze).

Today Steubenville has dozens of things named after Dean Martin (they also hold a yearly Dean Martin festival). I asked him when was the last time he’d visited his hometown and he just snickered.

“Do you mind if we get a picture?” Roni asked again.

“I don’t think they allow that here,” he demurred, trying to avoid it.

“Who’s gonna stop us? Let’s just do it,” she replied.

Martin shook his head and exhaled with undisguised annoyance, parted his lips and clicked on a a very fake smile. Through his gritted teeth he said “Go ahead, I don’t give a shit.” Something about his manner let Mike and I know that he meant NOW, so we squatted beside his chair.

After the flash went off, his smile vanished, he looked down at his drink and completely ignored us. We knew this was our cue to leave and we took it. Outside his limo was waiting. It sported a vanity plate reading “DRUNKY.”

The story doesn’t end there: Two weeks later I get a package of two big prints of the photo and several smaller ones from Roni. I laughed my ass off, DELIGHTED at seeing this memento of our loopy encounter with Dino. I left them out on the kitchen counter and every time I walked past them I grinned and marveled at the fact that a photo existed with Dean Martin and ME in it.

Then the phone rang. It was Roni asking had I gotten the package. I was looking down at the picture when she asked me: “Did you notice that his…”

No, I hadn’t noticed it, but I did then: His pants had been unfastened and un-zipped old man-style so his gut could hang out and the camera had caught this!

The photo I had been admiring all day became a million times better before my very eyes.

But the story doesn’t end there, either: At the time, I was in the middle of writing a script with Kramer (he of Bongwater and Shimmy-Disc fame) and I gave him one of the larger prints, which he hung in his Noise New Jersey studio. Around this time, he and Penn Jillette had formed a band called Captain Howdy and they were doing a bit of recording. Apparently Penn asked Kramer who the old guy in the photo was, but he refused to believe it when told that it was Dean Martin. Eventually he relented, and the Captain Howdy song “Dino’s Head” was apparently inspired in part by the below photo (and Penn getting to use Dean Martin’s “special” German shower head when Penn & Teller were performing in Las Vegas, as is explained in the song).
 

Click on photo to view larger image.
 

 

It doesn’t end there, either. Last month, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher used the Dino photo in a bit comparing JFK to Reagan, as seen below

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Francis Bacon: Painting and the mysterious and continuous struggle with chance
12.23.2013
03:10 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes

Tags:
Francis Bacon
David Sylvester

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Real painting for Francis Bacon was about a mysterious and continuous struggle with chance.

”Mysterious because the very substance of the paint can make such a direct assault on the nervous system; continuous because the medium is so fluid and subtle that every change that is made loses what is already there in the hope of making a fresh gain.”

Bacon believed when one talked about painting one said nothing of interest, it was all superficial. He believed it was best for a painter not to talk about painting. “If you could talk about it, why paint it?” he once said.

”The important thing for the painter is to paint, and nothing else.

“The most important thing is to look at the painting—to read the poetry, to listen to the music—not in order to understand it, or to know it but feel something.”

Yet, Bacon did talk at length about his paintings and his art. He claimed it was the Irish in him that made him so talkative. Much of what he said was recorded in a series of long interviews conducted with with the art critic, David Sylvester. These were later published as a book, and here in this documentary The LIfe of Francis Bacon they provide an exceptional background to understanding Bacon the artist and the man.

The documentary opens with Bacon’s idea of painting as a means to opening up areas of feeling, rather than merely illustration.

”A picture should be the recreation of an event, rather than an illustration of an object. But there is no tension in the picture unless there is a struggle with the object.

“I would like my pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them like a snail, leaving a trail of the human presence, a memory trace of past events, as the snail leave its slime.”

Bacon wanted to bring the sensation of life, what he termed “the brutality of fact,” directly to the viewer “without the boredom of conveyance.” To achieve this, he claimed he performed acts of violence on the canvas in a bid to make the pictures live. Bacon was a quick worker, turning paintings out in a few hours—compare this with the months Lucien Freud spent on a single canvas.

He took his ideas from everywhere—the colored plates in dentistry books; memories of his Nanny blurred with images of the slaughter on the Odessa Steps from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin; paintings by Velázquez; his asthma, Bacon’s Popes were gasping for air, not screaming; paintings by Picasso; the sadism of his father; nudes taken by Vogue photographer John Deakin; endless photo-booth self-portraits.

Bacon painted his lovers and friends, and many self-portraits. These self-portraits became more frequent as his friends died,  many destroyed by their “gilded gutter life” of drink and excess.

”Between birth and death it’s always been the same thing, the violence of life. I always think [my paintings] are images of sensation, after all, what is life but sensation? What we feel, what happens, what happens at the moment.

“We are born and we die, and that’s it, there’s nothing else. But in between we give this purposeless existence a meaning by our drives.”

It’s rare to see as many gallery paintings by an artist in one documentary as there are contained in The Life of Francis Bacon, and it’s superbly complimented by the long extracts of Bacon’s interviews, these are read by Derek Jacobi, who memorably played Bacon in the film Love is the Devil.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous MInds
Notes towards a portrait of Francis Bacon
‘Fragments of a Portrait’: Classic documentary on Francis Bacon

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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