Kelly Wise

  • Interviews with Francis Bacon 1962–1979

    David Sylvester, Interviews with Francis Bacon 1962–1979 (London: Thames and Hudson (distributed by W.E. Norton & Co.), 1981), 176 pages, 129 illustrations.

    DAVID SYLVESTER’S INTERVIEWS WITH Francis Bacon presents a portrait of a tough-minded artist, a man who is father-conflicted, compulsive, driven to surpass himself, productive in spite of (or perhaps because of) his cynical world view. In the preface, Sylvester suggests that the seven interviews spanning 17 years from 1962 to 1979 form an extended dialogue. That is a prodigious claim, and while Sylvester has elicited the kind of candid

  • Slave to Beauty

    TO STARVE ONESELF, TO ALLOW one’s hair to twine in stringy locks, to cast oneself in loincloth strapped and seemingly nailed to a cross, and to orchestrate the photographs of that crucifixion and later to exhibit them together in a frame as “The Seven Last Words of Christ” was to provoke mixed derision and acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. In July of 1898 an American photographer of romantic sensibility, F. Holland Day (with Baron Corvo, surely one of the most fascinating eccentrics of the century), a bookish man who throve on the examples of decadence and suffering that could be found in

  • Nick Nixon

    Those familiar with Nick Nixon’s career know that he has taken leviathan steps toward his subjects. In the mid ’70s, his tripod quavered in the wheezy sky of skyscrapers as he shot out and down at Boston’s landscape. Then he moved to river banks and beaches, and his spaces shrank to areas the size of tennis courts. In his recent portraits he has moved in even closer on his subjects.

    Stormy and ambivalent matter lurks in the earlier work. As in the first portrait from the series of the four Brown sisters, recalcitrance, detachment and mistrust threaten to disrupt his pictures. One wonders who is