Three years of my life as an EU student of English Literature at the University of East Anglia,England.
This is a very late review of my visit to the fantastic exhibition Francis Bacon and the Masters at the Sainsbury Centre! It’s never too late to review it and it’s still on (until the end of July). If you’re still in Norwich and want to spend a great afternoon, then you must go! If you’re a student, the entry fee only costs £4.
UEA talked a lot about it: they seemed very proud since they got paintings and sculptures made by very famous artists (Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Rodin, Michelangelo, Picasso, Matisse…). I’d never heard of Francis Bacon before and, to be honest, I didn’t like most of his pieces. I went to see Rembrandt’s paintings, I discovered many other amazing artists.
We weren’t allowed to take photographs there but I wrote down the names of some of the pieces I loved.
There was a lot of stuff that showed the link between the Sainsbury family and Francis Bacon. There were a few paintings of family members (especially Lisa) and letters were also on display. It seems Bacon asked them for money regularly (not surprising, for an artist).
As I said, I’m not a big fan of Bacon’s. However, it was so interesting to see how inspired he was by the “old masters”. The previous pictures show how modern Bacon’s style was, while the next one illustrates his fascination for the art of the past.
Renaissance was another source of inspiration for Bacon as demonstrated by Velazquez’s portrait of Philip IV, King of Spain. This is the kind of stuff I adore.
The following piece speaks for itself: “Study after Velazquez” is one of the numerous variations based on Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X. I loved how the open mouth and the distorted features make the protagonist seem very powerful and almost disturbing. The atmosphere and colours of Bacon’s study clash with the warmth and stillness of the original piece.
Of course, the highlight of the day was Rembrandt. These portraits are simply perfect and work so well together. The look on their eyes was breath-taking.
I really like the following piece, which is inspired by Van Gogh.
And I saved the most impressive painting for the end… In the last room was this HUGE painting made by an artist I’d never heard of. I felt overwhelmed by it because of its size! Besides, I love Christian paintings and representations of the crucifixion from this period. The paleness of the body contrasts drastically with the dark background and it’s almost as if the body itself lights up the room! You really can’t miss it.
I’m reaaaally glad that UEA hosted such an exhibition and that I went! There’s something for everyone and it was great to see that 20th century artist were still inspired by the traditional art that’s sometimes referred to as “exhausted” or “outdated”.
See you soon for my next article about Norwich Museum at Bridewell!