Francis Bacon

A Brief Survey of Art History’s Most Macabre Paintings

It was today in 1793 that Girondist sympathizer Charlotte Corday assassinated French revolutionary leader and radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat while he was taking a bath. The stabbing was memorialized in Jacques-Louis David’s 1793 painting, The Death of Marat, depicting Marat as a martyr on par with the Pietàs of classical painting, but artists like Edvard Munch created a much bloodier version of the events (featured, below). Art history is full of beautifully rendered paintings depicting gruesome acts and macabre scenarios. Here are ten you won’t soon forget. … Read More

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The Torrid and Intriguing Tales of 10 Male Muses

English occultist Aleister Crowley’s reputation as the snarling cue ball-headed “Great Beast” has been shattered. A book of Crowley’s aching, lovelorn poems, inspired by his affair with female impersonator Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt, will be exhibited at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London this month. “The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanize him,” rare book dealer Neil Pearson said of the poems. The dark libertine’s muse didn’t share his appreciation for esotericism, and the relationship ended abruptly — but Pollitt did inspire verses that included lines like, “My passion splashes out at last.” We also felt inspired — taking it upon ourselves to dig up the torrid and fascinating tales of ten male muses. The men whose lives helped shape the works of great painters, writers, and filmmakers often take a backseat to their female counterparts, but they are no less intriguing. Meet the inspiring friends and lovers of ten cultural luminaries. … Read More

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10 Famous Artworks That Remain Lost

Van Gogh’s Sunset at Montmajour sat in an attic in Norway for six decades, believed to be a fake, but the 1888 landscape painting has finally been authenticated as the real deal. We brought you news about the discovery earlier this week when we surveyed rediscovered paintings by famous artists — those that were pegged as copies or fakes, but turned out to be originals. Now we’re looking at famous artworks that remain lost. Many pieces of fine art are stolen or destroyed, but we’re putting the focus on the works that continue to be a complete mystery, whereabouts unknown. … Read More

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Wonderful Tumblr Places Great Art in Ugly Rooms

Whether you’re in a wood-splintering warehouse in Lubbock or a storefront in Beverly Hills with three security guards, it’s always fun to think about how art would look if you encountered it in an unexpected setting. Nearly four decades after Brian O’Doherty’s essay series Inside the White Cube ran in Artforum, the conversation about a gallery space’s effect on a work of art hasn’t so much died as it has fallen (occasionally) into dormancy. Though the name suggests otherwise, what’s great about Great Art in Ugly Rooms isn’t so much the art itself as the poignancy of seeing something recognizable (and probably very expensive) in a truly startling place. Then again, Recognizable Art in Ugly Rooms might not have the same zip to it. Here are a few keepers. … Read More

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10 Great Works of Literature and the Famous Artworks That Should Illustrate Them

Literature and art often work best together. Walk into the New York Public Library and you’ll find a heaven of books amid decadent paintings. Frank O’Hara’s 1957 poem, “Why I Am Not a Painter,” is best read alongside Michael Goldberg’s painting, Sardines. More recently, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs came up with Bookcam, a sculpture that, as its title suggests, is a working camera made out of books. And The Book Lovers, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts‘ current exhibition, which features novels by Carl Andre, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol, is all about the relationship between books and art. The show inspired us to explore that relationship further by matching artworks to our favorite pieces of literature – we think these would make fantastic illustrations. … Read More

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From Warhol to Miró: The Top-Selling Artists of 2012

Andy Warhol is still a superstar; Pablo Picasso remains a household name; and Jean-Michel Basquiat will forever be a creative rebel without a cause. Artnet.com, the online art site whose price database includes the auction results from more than 1,400 auction houses worldwide, just released a list of the world’s top-selling artists of 2012, with both surprising and anticipated statistics.

We analyzed the list to discover that Warhol was making amazing 3-D paintings back in 1962; Francis Bacon’s twisted portraits of his suicidal lover are his most coveted works; and rock legend Eric Clapton is a major art collector who’s reaping big returns on his past purchases. We also learned that 1981 — when he was still just 20 years old — was bad-boy Basquiat’s best year and that works from a handful of obscure Chinese painters are now selling for millions. Click through to see images of the year’s top-tiered works and read about who sold what and for how much. … Read More

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Happy Birthday Basquiat: 10 Memorable Movies About Artists

There’s something about artists that makes them compelling biopic subjects, especially if there’s something sexy, traumatic, Bohemian and otherwise scandalous about their personal life. In honor of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s birthday — he would have been 51 today — we present a few recommendations, just to get you started. Here you will find those dramatic details artfully exploited on celluloid with various degrees of salaciousness and, we hope, some valuable background on Bacon’s, Van Gogh’s, and Kahlo’s actual artistic careers. First up? The birthday boy himself. … Read More

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Portraits of Famous Artists and Photographers by Other Artists

What happens when an artist drops his brush or a photographer lowers his camera to pose for a portrait by a colleague? We investigated and found a snap of a young Nan Goldin, pre-fame and sans blouse, Francis Bacon’s face deconstructed by the strokes of Lucian Freud, and Picasso romping around in a big blond wig for Brassaï. Often starkly casual peeks, these portraits are brimming with a friendly intimacy and professional camaraderie. Take a look at some of our favorite cultural figures as models in the slide show. … Read More

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Johnny Stiletto's Gritty Photos of '80s London

The anonymous photographer Johnny Stiletto (a pseudonym, of course) captured the London of the ’80s through a streetwise lens, capturing the day to day life of the average man with gravity and beauty — as well as sneaking a peek at a celebrity now and again. “I like interaction,” he told the Telegraph, “I like an eye line. I like people who look stylish. I don’t do it at weekends, because people are less interesting when they’re being ‘weekendy’. Winter tends to be better than summer, because bright daylight is not very rewarding. I like evenings.” Stiletto’s photographs have recently compiled into a collection entitled Vintage ’80s: London Street Photography, which is definitely worth a look. In the meantime, check out some of our favorites of his shots (and Stiletto’s charming and elucidating ruminations on his subjects) after the jump, and then be sure to head over to his website for many more. … Read More

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The 30 Harshest Artist-on-Artist Insults In History

Our recent author-on-author, filmmaker-on-filmmaker and musician-on-musician insults have proved that creative folk are only human, and occasionally enjoy a good rip on their industry compatriots. Artists are no different, albeit they do it a bit differently. What they lack in media exposure, they make up in specifics, attacking “sickly” lines and “filthy” shades or, like Salvador Dalí, outright making up verbs like “outuglying” to drive their insults. Naturally, a good portion of these revolve around artists cutting down each others’ relevancy — yesterday’s Renaissance “daubers” are today’s graffiti “toys.” Looks like the battle of egos will never go away. (Oh, good!) Here are 30 harshest historical and contemporary artist-on-artists insults. We’d love to hear yours in the comments. … Read More

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