a mighty pink

1946 by Francis Bacon
Before I address this piece, I’m going to talk a little bit about my relationship with color, specifically, the color pink. When asked for my favorite color, I always answer “unfair question.” Because for an artist, some anyway, there is no favorite…some, like me, like them all, known and as yet unknown.

But the color pink and I have had an on again, off again relationship. I used to wear it alot. It’s a young, fresh color, very kind to my skin tone. And then I went to art school, at the height of grunge… all edgy, dirty, gritty, and rough. I wanted into that. And pink was certainly none of those. So I ditched poor pink from my wardrobe without a second thought. Too soft. Sweet. Innocent, even. I was 25 years old…forget that.

So flash forward to four years later. In Manhattan, at the Museum of Modern Art. I am standing in front of a huge, imposing canvas, and my jaw is hanging open. In front of me is Bacon’s 1946. It is grungy, edgy, menacing. All of this, with a field of pinks supporting it. These pinks mean business. They will be reckoned with, by God. And suddenly I see pink, through Mr. Bacon’s eyes, upon some further investigation into his work, in a completely different way. His pinks depict vulnerability, especially of the flesh. Carnality. Mortality. Decay. In unsettling juxtapositions. Crucifixions. Screaming mouths. Erotic, violent couplings.

This piece was hung perfectly for effect. It was on a single wall, alone, and posted a little high, so the viewer had to look up at it. It looks so much better in person, as one can see the layering and buildup of the pinks and reds, and the oiliness of the paint. In prints it looks more flat than it actually is. Is this not as relevant today, as it was back then? Can’t you see Cheney, or Rumsfeld, or some other Bush goon peering out from under that black umbrella?


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August 2006
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