Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cricket sightings in the work of Francis Bacon

Ducking Beamers recently noted a mention of cricket in Virginia Woolf's _To the Lighthouse_ (ostensibly in response to my reporting a cricket sighting in the works of Gabriel Orozco). In that spirit, I'd like to note another cricket sighting. A few days ago, while reading John Richardson's review of the Francis Bacon retrospectives mounted last year, I noticed the following line:
Paintings inspired by Edwards as well as a Formula 1 driver and a famous cricketer the artist fancied (fetishism survives in the batting pads) reveal that in old age Bacon managed to banish his demons and move on to beefcake.
This prompted the obvious question: which cricketer served as fantasy material for Bacon?

Off to Google I went. I googled a few different terms and finally hit the jackpot in a Times review of the Tate retrospective,
..his superficial interest in cricket resulted in a long and flippant finale devoted to images of Ian Botham in action.
The cricket works don't seem to have captured any critic's fancy: the Times' critic notes,
How astute, for instance, to include only one of the cricket pictures
Then, a conversation with the critic Edward Lucie Smith features the following comment,
It is true that I don't like a good deal of the very late work, particularly the series showing dwarfish figures dressed for the game of cricket. It was only after FB's death that I learned that these were supposedly inspired by Francis's fascination with the swaggering, ultimately butch cricket hero of that period, Ian Botham. Well I suppose I can't blame him for lusting after Botham, who when young was testosterone on two legs, and very much aware of the fact.
And lastly, the Guardian's Adrian Searle expresses relief at their omission,
The cast of sexy low-life gangster boyfriends, louche dissolutes, Colony Room renegades and hard-drinking, hard-smoking Soho gorgons who people Bacon's art also keep the paintings alive and vivid for us. These feature animals, captains of industry, dead politicians, Renaissance popes, Mick Jagger and Ian Botham, though the last two have wisely been left out of Tate Britain's retrospective.

OK, so I know that art critics think these works are crap. The problem is, I can't find any of the paintings. Google Images is of no help. Can anyone help?

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