Matterful Art: Francis Bacon, The Pictures Generation and Supermodels at the Met

The Met houses over two million works of art so I guess it’s no surprise that a visit there can lead to wide ranging exhibits and experiences.  But, yesterday took the very varied cake with a trip through Francis Bacon, the Pictures Generation and Models as Muses.

Bacon:  grotesque, isolated, tortured.

Bacon mostly focuses on solo, warped depictions of men.  Many of his paintings remind me of the “Welcome to the Jungle” video (Axl in an electric chair anyone?). One particularly disturbing room showcased his Man in Blue Series of business men in dark corners and lonely hotel rooms waiting for nothing good.  Bacon counts T.S. Eliot as a major influence and even titled one work, “A Piece of Wasteland” after the poet’s famous work:

 “After the torchlight red on sweaty faces/After the frosty silence in the gardens/After the agony in stony places/The shouting and the crying/Prison and place and reverberation/Of thunder of spring over distant mountains/He who was living is now dead/We who were living are now dying/With a little patience.”  

Yep, I see the connection.


Head IV

Study for a Portrait

Study for a Portrait


A Piece of Wasteland

A Piece of Wasteland

The Pictures Generation: mass and multi-media, consumerism, pop culture.

I learned that The Pictures Generation was a loose collective of artists working in New York in the 70s and 80s.  They focused on relatable, everyday images and how they shape our world and influence our thinking.  Many of the names are familiar:  Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Richard Prince and Louise Lawler, among others.  The exhibit was big, bright, loud and spacious — a sharp contrast from the claustrophobic feel to the Bacon one — and drew lots of smiles and nods from groups of friends.

The American Soldier (Robert Longo)

The American Soldier (Robert Longo)

Untitled (You Are Not Yourself) (Barbara Kruger)

Untitled (You Are Not Yourself) (Barbara Kruger)

Untitled (David Salle)

Untitled (David Salle)

In a tremendous moment of serendipity, we flipped through the exhibit catalogue and the page opened right to Peter Saville’s legendary cover for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures.”  I’m not sure how it fit in, but it was a welcome surprise.


The Model as Muse: celebratory, exuberant, decadent.

This was the equivalent of hopping on one of those slow-moving, Spaceship Earth trolleys at Epcot Center.  Starting with the 40s and ending in the 90s, the exhibit is a trip down model memory lane showing off the famous faces that graced repeated magazine covers, owned runways, romanced rock stars and more.  It also explores the reciprocal relationships between model, photographer and designer.  Most interesting to me was how flat and bland most of the fashions looked on the mannequins. After the first couple of rooms, I stuck to devouring the magazines on display, reading the models’ backstories and soaking in the music, which included Nirvana and George Michael (of course!).

Posted by: Mariela


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