To mark the end of the year – as is now traditional on the blog – we asked people across The Futures Company, and former colleagues, to share something they’d found interesting this year. We’ll be publishing the responses on the blog between now and New Year’s Day.

Joe Ballantyne on Francis Bacon and Henry Moore

FINAL-Bacon-Moore-Poster-9Aug2013The most surprising exhibition I went to this year was one where I was familiar with almost everything in it.

Francis Bacon and Henry Moore are two of the giants of 20th century British art, but before the Moore/Bacon exhibition at the Ashmoleon museum in Oxford I’d never really thought of them in any sort of dialogue: Moore was the sober, down to earth Yorkshireman and sculptor of stoic and tender monuments, Bacon was the haunted, masochistic metropolitan dandy and painter of twisted and contorted figures and screaming popes.

But the Moore/Bacon show at the Ashmoleon Museum in Oxford brings them together and argues that in many ways they shared the same concerns: Bacon was fascinated by sculpture and his art is sculptural in the way in which he evokes three dimensional figures, Moore was an excellent draughtsman. Both creating figurative art at a time when most of their contemporaries were interested in abstract work, and both were especially influence by Rodin.

The show also argues that both were ultimately grappling with the same themes: the suffering and common humanity of the survivors of grim atrocity – especially the Holocaust, the role of Christian iconography in a secular age, our capacity for violence. For both men, art is ultimately about flesh and bone: an appropriate title for the exhibition.

The show is at the Ashmoleon Museum in Oxford until 19th January 2014

Erin Bell on Fun Home

Fun_Home_musical_original_Playbill_cover_OctoberI’ve been a theater geek since childhood, and this November I had the pleasure of seeing the new musical Fun Home in NYC. The show was phenomenal. Based on an autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, the show follows the path to self-discovery of a young lesbian whose family life is endearingly dysfunctional. She and her siblings are raised with a unique perspective on death (their father runs a funeral home, which the family refers to as the “Fun Home” among themselves). Alison’s story is one of family, secrets, reflection, and tragedy, with powerful juxtapositions of truth v. lies, past v. present, and joy v. sorrow.

The image of the Moore/Bacon exhibition is from the Ashmolean, and is used with thanks. The image of the Fun Home poster is courtesy of Wikimedia, published under a Creative Commons licence, and used here with thanks.

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