A middling science-fiction remake is an unlikely venue for high art, and yet Francis Bacon’s paintings are on such prominent display in RoboCop that something is clearly afoot. Indeed, the movie’s production designer has called Francis Bacon’s Triptych inspired by Oresteia of Aeschylus, with its distorted human forms flowing in and out of floating, grid-like spaces, RoboCop’s “underlying visual metaphor” — heady stuff for a movie that at times is indistinguishable from a first-person-shooter video game. Once thought to be very much of its time, Bacon’s art is proving relevant to ours.
Your next trip to an art gallery may go something like this: first, you download an app onto your phone and flip through reproductions of the work you’re going to see. At the gallery, you take pictures of paintings; your phone recognizes them, and the curator’s voice in your earbuds gives you information. One work in particular captivates you, but prints aren’t available in the gift shop; no matter—you order one online. While you’re at it, you “like” the work on your social networking profile, and a link tells you there’s another gallery nearby with work by the same artist.
The Turner Prize, awarded each year to a British artist under 50, often engenders debates in the U. K. about such things as dead animals, excrement and sex — not to mention aesthetics. This year’s exhibit of the four nominees’ works, however, has provoked a collective shrug of indifference. The most exciting thing about it is the fact that Nick Cave, musical chronicler of all things lurid and grotesque, is set to announce the recipient of the Pounds 40,000 ($76,000) cheque tonight at London’s Tate Britain. The art itself, on the whole, is rather blah.