[Daily article] July 5: Head VI

Head VI is a 1949 painting by the Irish-born, English figurative artist
Francis Bacon. It is the last of six panels making up his “1949 Head”
series, which are largely modeled on Diego Velázquez’s Portrait of
Innocent X. Applying forceful, expressive brush strokes, Bacon placed
the figure within a draped glass cage. The intended effect is of a man
trapped and suffocated by his surroundings, screaming into an airless
void. Head VI was the first of Bacon’s paintings to reference
Velázquez, whose portrait of Pope Innocent X haunted Bacon and inspired
his series of over 45 “screaming popes”. Head VI contains many
figurations that were to reappear throughout his career; the geometric
cages are present as late as the 1985–86 Study for a Self-
Portrait—Triptych. In 1949 Bacon was a highly controversial artist,
best known for his 1944 Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a
Crucifixion, and as the enfant terrible of British art. The curator
Lawrence Gowing wrote that the “shock of the picture, when it was seen
with a whole series of heads … was indescribable. It was everything
unpardonable.” Today the panel is considered among Bacon’s finest.

Read more:

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

1775:

The Second Continental Congress of Britain’s Thirteen Colonies
adopted the Olive Branch Petition in the hopes of avoiding war with
Great Britain.

1865:

Royal assent was given to an Act of Parliament allowing the
Talyllyn Railway to carry passengers by steam haulage – the first
narrow-gauge railway in Britain to do so from the start.

1950:

Korean War: In the first encounter between North Korean and
American forces, the unprepared and undisciplined U.S. Army task force
was routed.

1977:

General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq overthrew Pakistani Prime Minister
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a military coup d’état.

2004:

Indonesia held its first direct presidential elections, which
resulted in the election of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as President of
Indonesia after the second round on September 20.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

suspension:
1. The act of suspending, or the state of being suspended.
2. A temporary or conditional delay, interruption or discontinuation.
3. The state of a solid or substance produced when its particles are mixed
with, but not dissolved in, a fluid, and are capable of separation by
straining.
4. The act of keeping a person who is listening in doubt and expectation of
what is to follow.
5. (education) The process of barring a student from school grounds as a
form of punishment.
6. (music) The act of or discord produced by prolonging one or more tones
of a chord into the chord which follows, thus producing a momentary
discord, suspending the concord which the ear expects. […]
7. (vehicles) The system of springs and shock absorbers connected to the
wheels in an automobile or car, which allows the vehicle to move
smoothly with reduced shock to its occupants.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent
servant but a terrible master.  
–P. T. Barnum

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