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Episode 61

Head VI
Wed, 2017-Jul-05 00:12 UTC
Length - 3:02

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Wednesday, 05 July 2017 is Head VI.

Head VI is an oil-on-canvas painting by the Irish-born English figurative artist Francis Bacon, the last of six panels making up his "1949 Head" series. It shows a bust view of a single figure, modeled on Diego Velázquez's Portrait of Innocent X. Bacon applies forceful, expressive brush strokes, and places the figure within a glass cage structure, behind curtain-like drapery. This gives the effect of a man trapped and suffocated by his surroundings, screaming into an airless void.

Head VI was the first of Bacon's paintings to reference Velázquez, whose portrait of Pope Innocent X haunted him throughout his career and inspired his series of "screaming popes", a loose series of which there are around 45 surviving individual works. Head VI contains many motifs that were to reappear in Bacon's work. The hanging object, which may be a light switch or curtain tassel, can be found even in his late paintings. The geometric cage is a motif that appears as late as his 1985–86 masterpiece, Study for a Self-Portrait—Triptych.

Head VI was first exhibited in November 1949 at the Hanover Gallery in London, in a showing organised by one of the artist's early champions, Erica Brausen. At the time, Bacon was a highly controversial but respected artist, best known for his 1944 Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, which made him the enfant terrible of British art. Head VI drew a mixed reaction from art critics; John Russell, later Bacon's biographer, at the time dismissed it as a cross between "an alligator shorn of its jaws and an accountant in pince-nez who has come to a bad end". In 1989 Lawrence Gowing wrote that the "shock of the picture, when it was seen with a whole series of heads ... was indescribable. It was everything unpardonable. The paradoxical appearance at once of pastiche and iconoclasm was indeed one of Bacon's most original strokes." Art critic and curator David Sylvester described it as a seminal piece from Bacon's unusually productive 1949–50 period, and one of Bacon's finest popes.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 00:12 UTC on Wednesday, 05 July 2017.

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These podcasts are produced by Abulsme Productions based on Wikipedia content.

They are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License

Abulsme Productions also produces Curmudgeon's Corner, a current events podcast.

If you like that sort of thing, check it out too!

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