Francis Bacon and Walt Disney

This was the title of a chapter in John Berger’s book “About Looking”. I saw the Bacon exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts some months ago and when I saw the title of this chapter  I had to read it again to make sure I had read it properly!

In fact Berger’s point is the way in which both Bacon and Disney take a particular part of the human anatomy and emphasise it out of all proportion to how it is found in nature. Thus Jiminy cricket’s head is huge in comparison to its body and Bacon will sometimes take a feature, Isabel Rawsthorne’s eye or nose for example, and emphasise this way beyond the attention given to the rest of the face.

I found that having read this chapter in Burgess book I was able to look at Bacon’s work anew. When I first saw it I obviously saw the “grotesque” eye or nose or whatever but perhaps didn’t think beyond that. Having read Berger’s words it made me think more about what Bacon was trying to achieve and why he had painted the portrait in the way that he had.

Berger wasn’t directly comparing the work of Bacon and Disney but the point that he made about how they both overemphasise parts of the body made me think in a lot more detail about the work of Bacon that I had seen.


BERGER, J., 2009. About looking. London: Bloomsbury.