In: Francis Bacon's Popes

Il silenzio dell’Innocenzo, 2011
May 26, 2021

Guiseppe Veneziano, Il silenzio dell’Innocenzo, 2011

To call Guiseppe Veneziano a controversial artist is an understatement. His more challenging works have garnered him fame and censorship, but often his pieces about Koons or Hitler are more stylish provocation than substance, like a child learning a new profanity. But the work I’m sharing today by Veneziano builds upon past artists whose portraits, centuries or decades later, still unsettle us. That this image is less trite and exists more so in the space where art, or art history, can be both subversive and yet direct, is why I consider it worthwhile. 𝘐𝘭 𝘴π˜ͺ𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘻π˜ͺ𝘰 π˜₯π˜¦π˜­π˜­β€™π˜π˜―π˜―π˜°π˜€π˜€π˜¦π˜―π˜»π˜° (2011) appropriates Spanish painter Diego VelΓ‘zquez Portrait of Pope Innocent X (c.1650), but with the addition of the β€˜mouthguard’, so well known to us from Hannibal Lecter. 𝘐𝘭 𝘴π˜ͺ𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘻π˜ͺ𝘰 π˜₯π˜¦π˜­π˜­β€™π˜π˜―π˜―π˜°π˜€π˜€π˜¦π˜―π˜»π˜° has more in common, perhaps, with the painting Study after VelΓ‘zquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953) by Francis Bacon. My own history brings to mind Metis artist Michel Boutin’s amusing and disturbing painting from his Great King Rabbit series: one of his β€˜rabbits’ is in papal drag, looking feral, with large teeth, the better to eat you with, my dear (like the skulls of the victims that adorn his throne, with a paw richly adorned in rings, another gripping a stack of cash).Β 

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