Thursday, June 3, 2010

Light Bulb

When the library workday ended I decided to walk home. Shortly after reaching Haight Street I was stopped in my tracks by the logo on this panel truck.

I had to wonder if it hadn't consciously been modeled on the famous light bulb that hung for decades in the London studio of Francis Bacon (visible below in a photo taken of the artist in 1974 by Michael Holz).

That light bulb made its way into dozens of Bacon's paintings, including Two Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer from 1968, rather poorly reproduced below.

High resolution images of Bacon paintings are (in 2010) virtually non-existent when you go looking for them – occasionally a few pop up, but then disappear – presumably because the Estate swoops down and suppresses them with threats of legal action. There is big money behind this nebulous Estate. The most recent three-panel work that came up at auction sold to a Russian billionaire for more than $80 million.

In 2007 Robert Priseman created a screenprint called Francis Bacon's lightbulb. At a price of £250 it is at least a thousand times less expensive than even the scrappiest trifle from the hand of the man who contrived to create a distinct yet mysterious signifier out of an everyday object of household utility.