‘Seeing-as’: The Modality of Looking in Bacon’s Portraiture

Rina Arya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines Francis Bacon’s treatment of portraits of sitters who were close to him–a closeness that is seen in the intimacy of their portrayals. Bacon cut through the surface to capture the energy of a person. This study articulates Bacon’s pictorial problem by arguing for a particular way of ‘seeing-as’, to draw on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy, that involves the ‘noticing of an aspect’ or ‘dawning of an aspect’. Interpreting Bacon’s portraits by using Wittgenstein’s understanding of perceptual concepts and the phenomenological perspective of the immediacy of experience presents a novel way of looking at his work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-309
Number of pages14
JournalVisual Culture in Britain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


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