Bacon’s Study for Innocent X (1962)
Francis Bacon's scenes can be confusing but make more sense when you recognize them as imaginative depictions of the inside of his own head, as Velazquez's scenes are too. Bacon therefore painted Pope Innocent X (based on Velazquez's portrait) as though the Pope is on a stage in the theater of his mind. Innocent in the original portrait was, in EPPH's view, a semi-divine alter ego of Velazquez as well. Unaware that the viewer looks inwards, others have failed to note that the Pope's cloak and the contour of his back are in the form of Bacon's own face, a mental image of himself.
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Compare the form of the papal cloak to Bacon's portrait, taken the same year, and see the similarity in the shape of his curved nose and fleshy lips. The curve towards the top of the nose is a closed eye (for insight) though too low down. It probably represents his inner eye not his real one. The Pope's whole face, whitened, may represent the artist's "actual eyeball" because Bacon's eye, like the Pope himself, was a pathway for the divine.
See conclusion below
More Works by Bacon
Find out what the studio and Golgotha have in common
Learn how one scene can turn into another through visual metamorphosis
Original Publication Date on EPPH: 09 May 2013. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.