PRINT September 1989



FRANCIS BACON’S FIGURE WITH MEAT, 1954, is the only modern work in the Flugleheim Museum in Tim Burton’s Batman, as if Bacon’s image were the rough beast signaling the birth of the new barbarian age, the Cerberus in front of which the Joker pauses before entering the post-Modern Hades he will actually create: “I like this one, Bob. Let it go.” Bacon is an interesting choice as the father of a new artistic age—hardly considered “modern” at all, he’s nicely poised for filiation, and as the painter par excellence of violence, obsessed with the abattoir, he’s the logical ancestor for “the world’s first fully functioning homicidal artist.” The painter of the cry is acknowledged, but not appropriated, by the possessor of the rictus grin.

The Joker is the “modern” artist, at least one very visible version of him. His antics at the museum (which looks like a Lee Bontecou construction, as if another

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