post number 2

February 22, 2012

In ‘The Logic of Sensation,’ Deleuze compares concepts of abstract painting with figurative painting to the works of Francis Bacon. He suggests that Bacon’s works are unique in that they defy both of these categories.

The ‘diagram’ separates the methodologies of abstract artists such as Pollack and Michaux from figurative artists such as Cezanne and Van Gogh. Deleuze write ‘the diagram ends the preparatory work and begins the act of painting’, suggesting the differences between the two schools. Abstract painting engages more with the visual, ongoing assessment by the artist while painting, where to put paint and colour, when it is finished, which way is up, its initial ‘diagram’ is expressed as a coded concept of technique. Pollack’s abstract series express vividly the way they were painted, the movement, gravity and forces. Michaux’s works are simpler but, as Deleuze suggests, retain a greater strength of diagram, the repetitive technique is more vividly described with series’ of similar brushstrokes which allow the viewer to experience the entire painting process from start to finish.

We see in earlier paintings a repression of technique in favour of expressing the ‘diagram,’ we ask ‘what does this mean?’ as opposed to ‘how and why was this painted?’ The figurative works are researched, planned and ‘diagrammed’ before being painted. The action of the brush, the sways and swearing of the artists are hidden to the viewer behind the final product which serves to speak for itself but perhaps not the artist.

Bacon’s most known works are disfigured, figurative portraits, their diagram is clear and at the same time unclear for there appears to be two paintings in each work, one, a figurative portrait and two, and abstract disfiguration of another painting. The ambiguity arises when we consider the intention of the works. Bacon’s figurative portraits were painted in order to be abstracted, and so we find ourselves asking the questions we ask for both abstract and figurative paintings, what does this mean? and how and why was this done?

-Michael Lyon

One Response to “post number 2”


  1. Perhaps less, what does it mean, than, of what use is it? The formula that Deleuze and Guattari generally prefer is to ask what we can do with things (art for instance), rather than what they mean to us. Deleuze presents three ways toward sensation: 1. Abstraction (Mondrian); 2. Abstract Expressionism (Pollack); 3. the Figure (Bacon).
    Deleuze can also be seen to set up an opposition between figuration (to much representation, illustration, narration) and the Figure (direct access to the nervous system and affect). Your account is quite clear, but sometimes to terminology risks getting confused. Great diagram, I hope you continue to develop this style…borrowing from diagrams of instruction is a strong idea. H.Frichot


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