Monday, December 21, 2009

Isolation and the Darkness of Cupboards

Man in Blue I - Francis Bacon (1954)

Perhaps the most revealing story I personally remember him telling about his early childhood in Ireland concerned a maid or a nanny - I had the impression of a sort of Irish mother's help - who was left in charge of him for long periods when his parents were absent from the house. She had a soldier boyfriend who came visiting at these times; and of course, the couple wanted to be alone. But Francis was a jealous and endlessly demanding little boy who would constantly interrupt their lovemaking on one pretext or another. As a result, she took to locking him in a cupboard at the top of the stairs when her boyfriend arrived. Confined in the darkness of this cupboard Francis would scream - perhaps for several hours at a time - but since he was out of earshot of the happy courting couple, completely in vain. ‘That cupboard,’ Bacon apparently said years later, ‘was the making of me.’

- Anthony Cronin, "An Irish Fear of Death?" in
David Sylvester edited Francis Bacon in Dublin ( Dublin, Ireland: Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art and Thames & Hudson, 2000). Exhibition catalogue with contributions by Grey Gowrie, Louis le Brocquey, Anthony Cronin and Paul Durcan.

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