Dublin, Ireland, 1909-Madrid, 1992
Oil on canvas, 198.5 x 147.5 cm
Acquired in 1982
A male figure is reflected in a mirror framed by two white lines, which also depicts part of the circular interior—an arena or a stage for erotic performances—in which it is placed. The geometric and chromatic reduction of the floor, walls and roller blinds forms a sharp contrast with the sensual and elastic treatment of the deformed headless presence that dominates the composition, the plastic quality of which matches the interest that sculpture held for Bacon at the time (he kept a picture of Michelangelo’s Day from the Medici Chapel in his studio). Far from making the room larger, the mirror—a common feature in his oeuvre since the late sixties—stresses the idea of confinement and transforms the viewer into a voyeur of his own distorted reality. Having settled in London in 1925, from 1926 to 1928 Bacon travelled to Berlin, Munich and Paris, where he came into contact with the work of Picasso and Buñuel and began to paint. In the early years of the following decade he produced his first major paintings, albeit the little impact they caused led him to destroy a part of his work and to give up painting completely until 1944. During the fifties he would create his own personal style of figurative painting, inspired by the oeuvre of Rembrandt, Velázquez, Van Gogh and Picasso and by the pioneers of photography. The retrospective exhibition of his works held at the Tate Gallery in 1962 built up his reputation, which was confirmed in 1971 by the huge acclaim of his show at the Grand Palais in Paris. In 1990, two years before his death in Madrid, he visited the Velázquez exhibition at the Prado Museum. [M.G.M.]
Independently of its permanent collection, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum regularly organises temporary exhibition programmes.
Please consult the exhibition calendar for more information about the museum's latest proposals.
Basque sculptor Néstor Basterretxea (Bermeo, Biscay, 1924) recently donated one of the most celebrated series of Basque sculptures dating from the second half of the XX century to the Museum: the Basque Cosmogony Series. The Series was first exhibited by the Museum in 1973.
The current exhibition comprises 18 sculptures, 17 of which are made of oak and 1 of bronze, which the artist created between 1972 and 1975. The finely crafted works executed in contemporary language are based on mythological characters, forces of nature and traditional objects from Basque culture taken from José Miguel de Barandiarán’s Diccionario de Mitología Vasca (Dictionary of Basque Mythology, 1972). Visitors will also have the opportunity of admiring 5 works from the Máscaras de la Madrina Luna Series created in 1977 as well as several preparatory drawings.
It is also on exhibition two movies directed by Néstor Basterretxea and Fernando Larruquert, entitled Pelotari (1964) and Ama Lur (1968), and a documental about the artist.
BASQUE COSMOGONY SERIES
1. AKELARRE and AKER BELTZ (Black billy goat)
Meadow where wizards met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights to worship Aker Beltz, a spirit which took the shape of a billy goat and protected the livestock. Pagan tradition.
3. EIZTARIA (The hunter)
Legend has it that a hunter, punished for his excessive love of hunting, wanders ceaselessly over the mountains with his dogs.
4. GAUEKO (He who stalks the night)
Spirit of the night in the shape of a cow or a monster; his presence is marked by gusts of wind.
5. IDITTU (Night spirit)
Night spirit with the form of an animal; his presence is marked by a flame.
6. ILLARGI AMANDRE (Godmother Moon)
A divinity associated with fertility.
7. INTXIXU (Wild demon)
Legendary spirit haunting caves and deserted areas.
8. AMALAU ZANKO (The ghost of the fourteen stilts)
A strange malignant being.
9. ARGIZAIOLA eta ARGIZAIOLA ZUTA (Light of the dead)
Tablets in remembrance of the departed; the wax scroll symbolizes the fire in the hearth that lives on in the temple.
11. BOST HAIZEAK (The five winds)
Natural phenomenon. The lauburu (four heads) is a pre-Christian symbol, used from the 16th and 17th centuries in funeral steles, on houses fronts or as an amulet or charm.
12. EATE (The harvest destroyer)
Spirit of storms, fire, floods, lightning and hurricanes.
13. MAIRUAK (The cromlech builders)
Pagan builders of dolmens and cromlechs.
14. OSTADAR (Rainbow)
Natural phenomenon considered to be magical in the ancient world.
15. TRIKU HARRI (Stone of the hedgehog. Homage to the dolmen)
Name of a dolmen, a prehistoric monument widely found in the Basque Country.
16. MAJUE (Subterranean spirit)
Pernicious underground spirit; with his wife Mari he conjures up hailstorms.
17. MARI (Main goddess of Basque Mythology)
Female spirit living in caverns. Legend has it that her cave is one of the faces of Mount Amboto, in the Duranguesado area.
18. TORTO (Malign one-eyed spirit)
Malignant, man-eating spirit with one eye.
09|23|14 • 01|12|15
10|07|14 • 01|19|15
THE GUEST WORK
10|15|14 • 01|12|15
THE GUEST WORK
07|02|14 • 10|13|14
06|10|14 • 09|15|14
05|16|14 • 09|01|14