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Men and Machines

OF THE FLICKED AND TWISTED pigmented gristle of Francis Bacon’s faces, Lawrence Cowing recently wrote:

When a thing is ‘painted’ it is captured or reborn in a substance that is endlessly protean, metaphoric, adhesive and elastic, infinitely fantastic. The equivalence itself is a unique, improbable fantasy of Western man. It is always more or less uncontrollable, impulsive and automatic. It is not for want of trying that no picture has quite been repeated since painting began. The stuff of painting remains beyond comprehension; it is unreasonable and disturbing that the whole message must reach us through the magic accident that happens to only one man. (“The Irrefutable Image,” Catalog of Francis Bacon Exhibition, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York, 1968.)

What a touching statement, this atavistic cri de coeur, proudly lamenting the “magic accident” of art! For it goes now increasingly

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