Review of Francis Bacon's Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X
By: David K. Montoya

Happy Halloween, and welcome to this month's art review, this is David K. Montoya with you this time as our resident reviewer is out with a nasty bout of Covid, but I hear that he is on the rebound and will return with his in-depth analysis that we have all come and love, until then, you are stuck with me and my interesting translations of art. Lucky you!

Since this is the Halloween issue, I wanted to review something that was considered Halloween Art. So, after a brief Google search, I stumbled across a painter who I had forgotten about since my art history class back in 2009. I always found artists who were plagued with a deep religious belief the ones who created the best art; with that said, enter Francis Bacon, a painter out of the early 1900s whose views against religion came through in his creations of contemporary art. Oh, and my school book said Bacon had a unique style, but I call it downright freaky--I don't mean that in a bad way as, at times, it reminds me of my all-time favorite painter Salvador Dali.

Since I wanted a mixture of freaky and disturbing, I went with Bacon's Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X. With a title that sounds like it came straight from the pages of Marvel Comics, it appears to be created for your deepest, darkest nightmares. Finished in 1953, the work is described as a distorted version of Spanish artist Diego Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, and let me tell you, gang, what a stark contrast between the two paintings! This particular work is the first of about fifty where Bacon interpreted Velazquez's work.

As we look at the painting, we see that purple is the primary color, creating a sense of dread. In the original, the background is vibrant but disappears and is exchanged with a lifeless, dark blank. The Horizontal metal frame and drapes created a feeling of the pope being caged like an animal; which my favorite part of the painting is the face as he screams in what I can only assume is pain.

Bacon was actually asked at the height of his career why he was so inclined to use Velazquez's work over and over continuously. The artist replied that he had nothing against the popes, which he wanted to attempt at fauvism, and felt that those portraits were perfect for what he wanted to do creatively. But it is also noted that at the time, he was coming to terms with the death of his father, who was said to be cold and borderline abusive in his earlier years as a parent.

It also should be noted that during the time of the creation of Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Francis was said to be heavily involved in what the textbooks called only as illicit sexual encounters and a destructive sadomasochistic approach to said illicit sexual encounters. Along with a continuous abusive relationship with Peter Lacy.

No matter what you may walk away thinking about this particular artist, he knew the palette of finding success in the art world. Everything mentioned in this review fueled Francis Bacon to create one of the most disturbing Halloween-Esque paintings known to the modern world!

Well, that is it for me, and I want to thank you if you have reached the end as we review and hopefully feel a bit enlightened. All of you have a fantastic Halloween, and thanks again for reading!