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The Painter as butcher

Deleuze writes: ‘The painter is certainly a butcher, but he goes to the butcher’s shop as if it were a church, with the meat as the crucified victim . . . Bacon is a religious painter only in butchers’ shops.’ I was brought up short by this unusual statement, itself prompted by Bacon’s own bizarre and disturbing revelation in an interview with Sylvester: ‘I’ve always been very moved by pictures about slaughterhouses and meat, and to me they belong very much to the whole thing of the Crucifixion . . . Of course, we are meat, we are potential carcasses. If I go into a butcher shop I always think it’s surprising that I wasn’t there instead of the animal.
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