Francis Bacon’s Distortions — Via Scientific American

…”The works of 20th-century British painter Francis Bacon are notorious for their power to unsettle viewers. The artist, once described by Margaret Thatcher as “that man who paints those dreadful pictures,” was up-front about his intent to provide a “visual shock” to audiences. Neuroscientists Semir Zeki and Tomohiro Ishizu, both at University College London, have argued that Bacon’s distorted faces and disfigured bodies—often reminiscent of violence and mutilation—are almost universally disturbing because of the way they subvert our brain’s template for the human form. Several brain regions, such as the fusiform face area and the fusiform and extrastriate body areas, are specialized in the recognition of faces and bodies. According to Zeki and Ishizu, Bacon’s paintings are just consistent enough with the real human figure that these parts of the brain are engaged. The troubling part for the viewer is that the details of Bacon’s portraits are so distorted that they violate the brain’s expectations for the body. This creates the viewer’s sense of discomfort.”…

Via Scientific American: “Famous Paintings Can Reveal Visual Disorders: Neural pathologies have shaped great art throughout history”

“I believe in a deeply ordered chaos” — Francis Bacon

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” — Cesar A. Cruz or Banksy?

Note: excerpts shared in this blog are for educational purposes and in a manner complying with the principles of fair use.



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