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French Studies: A Quarterly Review, Volume 67, Number 3, July 2013, pp. 371-385 (Article) Published by Oxford University Press
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My aim here is to use a comparison of the two to understand the precise possibilities offered by each. lively possibility of something else that can help us ﬁght or escape this misery. One version. on Ge ´ rard Fromanger). 3. Arguing that the version deployed in Deleuze’s discussion of Bacon is limited in its ability to negotiate some kinds of contingent negativity. All rights reserved. livelier possibilities. I shall not attempt to cover every Deleuzian and Deleuzo – Guattarian discussion of painting. Deleuze shows in these writings how works of art can engage with local instances of suffering and constraint in such a way as to open these on to other.French Studies. written with Guattari. In his writings on the visual arts. Deleuze’s writings on painting reject an aesthetics of mimesis in favour of a celebration of effectivity. for Deleuze. on the side of vitality: combative extraction opens a channel beyond any local misery towards the welcome. and in Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? (1991). The article concludes by suggesting how these two versions of combative painterly extraction might most productively be imagined as working in tandem.1093/fs/knt073 DELEUZE ON PAINTING MARTIN CROWLEY QUEENS’ COLLEGE. As will be seen. Deleuze celebrates the capacity of works of art to channel energetic forces that can help us battle all manner of constraints. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. I shall examine the kinds of traction between these dimensions allowed by each version. This mechanism is consistently at work throughout Deleuze’s writings on the visual arts. or the painters who swarm across # The Author 2013. LXVII. the difference in question turns on the relation between contingent misery and the vitality on to which this misery may be opened. Mobilizing a dynamic of combative extraction. for example. ‘Le Froid et le chaud’ (1973). Examining Deleuze’s most extended analyses of the work of particular painters (namely. of the account of Turner in L’Anti-Œdipe. there will be no analysis. accordingly. despite itself. and ‘Le Froid et le chaud’ (1973). this article looks in detail at the workings of this mechanism in each case. in his monograph Francis Bacon: logique de la sensation (1981). as elsewhere. Francis Bacon: logique de la sensation (1981). seeking to deﬁne this difference.com . opened on to the afﬁrmation of something positive. inﬂected differently in different places. and in his piece on the painter Ge Diffe ´ rard Fromanger. another. Such works do this by means of the characteristic Deleuzian mechanism that I shall here call ‘combative extraction’. No. please email: journals. Such afﬁrmation is always. can be found in ´rence et re ´pe ´tition (1968). it maintains that this might. For permissions. with different emphases. These two modalities display more similarities than differences: they are evidently versions of the same dynamic. Vol.permissions@oup. for example. in which contingent negativity is. be supplemented usefully by the differently inﬂected version at work in his piece on Fromanger. CAMBRIDGE Abstract In keeping with the position maintained throughout his work. or that of the iconography of Christian painting in Mille plateaux. 371 – 385 doi:10.
137 – 52. M. esp.2 (2006). pp. 1997). ‘L’objet le plus haut de l’art’ I shall not. discussing ﬁrst his analysis of Bacon. by Constantin V. Williams. pp. 1994). seriality. by way of introduction. 233 – 46 (p.000 BC : Painting Animality: Deleuze and Prehistoric Painting’. 79 (emphasis original). empirisme transcendantal ou science du sensible. he writes in Diffe ´rence et re ´pe ´tition: montrer la diffe ´ rence allant diffe On sait que l’œuvre d’art moderne tend a ` re ´aliser ces conditions: elle devient en ce sens un ve ´riˆtre.) . ‘30. I shall here highlight three elements that are particularly relevant to the argument at hand: his refusal of representation. 2 For such accounts see. productive not of resemblance but of powerfully revitalizing effects.3 The speciﬁcity of Deleuze’s position emerges in his understanding of the vitality of these effects: for Deleuze. Deleuze et l’art (Paris: Presses universitaires de France. in Deleuze’s analysis. 1968). 2005). 154 – 88. and Elizabeth Grosz. 154). Simon O’Sullivan. 2005). which here ﬁnd their most extensive elaborations. Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought beyond Representation (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Chaos. pp. fait de me ´a table the ´tamorphoses et de permutations. Capitalisme et schizophre ´ ditions de Minuit. to show the movement of differentiation in action. Anne Sauvagnargues.1 Rather. be proposing an overall account of Deleuze’s writings on the visual arts. in order to understand better the deﬁning structures and possibilities of combative painterly extraction. After some initial presentation of key concepts. ed. and the speciﬁc version of combative extraction discussed in Logique du sens under the name of ‘counter-actualization’. 2008). Turner: Catastrophism in Philosophy?’. p. ‘Anti-Platonism and Art’. 11. 1973). pp. the notion. by Keith Ansell Pearson (London: Routledge. each of which features one of Deleuze’s two most detailed treatments of painting. Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth (New York: Columbia University Press. [. ed. 3 On this see Paul Patton. Darren Ambrose. page numbers for quotations from the writings of Deleuze/Deleuze and Guattari. in particular. Diffe As Patton puts it: ‘Aesthetic modernity provides Deleuze with one example of a world in which difference has free rein’ (‘Anti-Platonism and Art’. in Gilles Deleuze and the Theater of Philosophy. . I shall proceed anti-chronologically. after the ﬁrst complete bibliographical citation in the footnotes.4 The fascination of modern artworks for processes of repetition. will be given in parentheses in the text. ‘Il faut ´rant’. and then his essay on Fromanger. I shall conclude by considering how the relation between the extractive dynamics at work in these respective moments might most productively be imagined. 141 – 56. the effectivity of the artwork derives from its ability to channel those forces of differentiation through which life as such afﬁrms itself. 5 ´rence et re ´pe ´tition (Paris: Presses universitaires de France.372 MARTIN CROWLEY the pages of Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?. p. ‘Deleuze on J. 157 – 58. Gilles Deleuze. every actual thing is subject to an inﬁnite set of continuing and open-ended transformations and recreations that can be expressed in art’. the chapter 1980). in Deleuze and Philosophy: The Difference Engineer. 2006). 218 – 19. Deleuze’s conception of art is uncompromisingly anti-mimetic and embeds him squarely in his time: his is one of the strongest statements of the modernist afﬁrmation of the artwork as non-representational. and Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? (1991.] L’œuvre d’art quitte le domaine de la repre ´ sentation pour devenir ‘expe ´rience’. 235). affect et concept’. W. developed with Guattari. pp. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities.2 Rather. Territory. see J. Capitalisme et schizophre ´ ditions de Minuit. (Hereafter. I plan to explore these twin poles. 4 As James Williams writes: ‘according to Deleuze. then. Boundas and Dorothea Olkowski (New York: Routledge. ´nie: II : Mille plateaux (Paris: E Minuit. and so on allows them. . Paris: E ‘Percept. Italics within quotations are original.5 1 ´ ditions de ´nie: I : L’Anti-Œdipe. of art as channelling the forces of chaos. new edn (Paris: E See Gilles Deleuze and Fe ´lix Guattari.
. in his view. acceptable copy. these effects entail an encounter with vital. . 8 Gilles Deleuze. what he presents as the consumerist reproduction of the same). http://www.) 6 7 . Francis Bacon: logique de la sensation (1981. la plus habituelle. La ta ´ﬁnie comme la tentative de rendre visibles des forces qui ne le sont pas. Paris: Seuil. 306. de faire jouer simultane Peut-e ´ment toutes ces re ´ pe ´titions [. and degraded simulacrum is decisively refused.edu. (p. de me ´moire. ` elle se renverse.]. en peinture comme en musique. here. forces. 1969). mais l’art est simulacre. il renverse les copies en simulacres). mais de capter des forces. e ´ tant toujours de ´place ´e par rapport a ` d’autres re ´pe ´titions. (pp. p.] C’est une e ´vidence.DELEUZE ON PAINTING 373 This conception of the work as experiential disqualiﬁes any recourse to concepts of imitation: with this gesture. etc. La ce ´le `bre formule de Klee ‘non pas rendre le visible. Logique de la sensation. la plus quotidienne.au/hrc/ﬁrst_and_last/works/realer. il ne s’agit pas de reproduire ou d’inventer des formes. From this functionalist perspective. 2002). (p. As Deleuze and Guattari put it in Mille plateaux: ‘Aucun art n’est imitatif. Deleuze proposes this operation as the task of art as such: ˆ tre est-ce l’objet le plus haut de l’art. 375) Against the deathly repetition to which our lives can subject us (speciﬁcally. et lui arracher cette petite diffe ´rence qui joue d’autre part et simultane ´ment entre d’autres niveaux de re ´ pe ´tition. . 57. 375) Art thus encourages us to ﬁnd the play of difference even within repetitions that we can ﬁnd oppressive: ˆt standardise Plus notre vie quotidienne apparaı ´e. art helps us extract from our drab everyday routine the livelier rhythms of disparity and singularity: ˆ me la re Me ´pe ´ tition la plus me ´canique. each time anew. jusqu’a ` ce point ˆme ou extre ´ries ‘se ´rige ´niques’ de Warhol. And as in Deleuze’s invocation of the rhythms of differentiation. et de mort. et a ` condition qu’on sache en extraire une diffe ´rence pour ces autres re ´pe ´titions.8 ´ ditions de Minuit. Deleuze celebrates the capacity of works of art to release the lively rhythms of repetition as differentiation. (p. the Platonic hierarchy between Ideal model.. p. Logique du sens (Paris: E On the simulacrum see Brian Massumi. se trouvent conjugue ´es). 374). la plus ste ´ re ´ otype ´e trouve sa place dans l’œuvre d’art. mais c’est d’abord parce qu’il re ´pe ` te. soumise a ` une reproduction acce ´le ´re ´e d’objets de consommation. As Deleuze writes in his study of Bacon: En art. writes Deleuze in Logique du sens. ‘On de ´ ﬁnit la modernite ´ par la puissance du simulacre’. through the joyful productivity of the simulacrum.anu. 375)7 ` toutes les re Consequently. ne ˆ tre imitatif ou ﬁguratif ’ (p. d’habitude. et re ´pe ` te toutes les re ´ pe ´titions. mais rendre ˆche de la peinture est de visible’ ne signiﬁe pas autre chose. Gilles Deleuze. la copie de copie. [. Accordingly. L’art n’imite pas. to have so exacerbated the status of the copy as to have split decisively from any logic of authentic originals ´rence et re ´pe ´tition he celebrates: and faithful reproductions. ‘Realer than Real: The Simulacrum according to Deleuze and Guattari’ (1987). et devient simulacre (ainsi les admirables se ou ´pe ´titions.htm . de par une puissance inte ´ rieure (l’imitation est une copie. (Hereafter. in Diffe la manie `re dont le Pop-Art en peinture a su pousser la copie. . . 374 – 75) Freeing repetition from the tyranny of imitation. [accessed 25 February 2013].6 The happy genius of modern art forms is. plus l’art doit s’y attacher. but otherwise imperceptible. every peut e artwork is productive of effects. ste ´re ´otype ´e.
to become otherwise. Art. repeated consumption. the aim of counter-actualization is to live actual suffering in such a way as to defy its deadening assault. as Deleuze describes ˆ me them. ‘en un seul et me ´ ve E ´ nement’ (p. ‘[l]’e ´ ve ´ nement n’est pas ce qui arrive. poet Joe ¨ Bousquet writing out of paralysis and constant pain. p. producing sensations that have something of its intensity and so help us not to fall into its abyss: ‘Le peintre passe par une catastrophe. 34). channelling the energies of the latter to explode the constraints of the former while also protecting against the full force of these energies. Singular and ideal. Territory. write Deleuze and Guattari: ‘Nous ne le vaincrons qu’a ` ce prix’ (p. p. splendidly ‘libre des limitations d’un e ´ tat de choses’ (p.374 MARTIN CROWLEY In Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? this is expressed axiomatically: ‘L’e ´ ternel objet de la peinture: peindre les forces’ (p. parce qu’une autre lutte se de ´ veloppe et prend plus d’importance. however: there is also the risk of protecting ourselves from these forces by constructing regimes of bad faith. Art composes (with) chaos. to create. ou par un embrasement. One particularly clear account of this dynamic — which is. Deleuze calls these poles the ‘accident’ and the ‘event’: as he puts it. if the accident can be lived stoically. 175). which it shares in this analysis with science and philosophy: to traverse the chaos of what is. 68). Always by deﬁnition heterodox. M. And as we have seen. comme du saut qui le me ` ne du chaos a ` la composition’ (pp. ´ve ´nement avec son effectuation spatioThe imperative. art also has the task of helping us to ﬁght the oppressive force of such regimes. . then. Deleuze’s favourite example is. contre l’opinion qui ˆ me’ ( Qu’est-ce que la philosopre ´ tendait pourtant nous prote ´ ger du chaos lui-me phie?. This role provides one example of art’s more general function. accordingly. far from being restricted to works of art — is provided in Logique du sens. Chaos. 177). et laisse sur la toile la trace de ce passage.9 The enemy is not just chaos. also afﬁrms. 191). ‘La philosophie. la science et l’art veulent que nous de ´ chirions le ﬁrmament et que nous plongions dans le chaos’. 172). the key to this lies in the possibility of extracting from this suffering the force of life it always. Deleuze’s dynamic of combative extraction means that art can always draw on other energies to put us in touch with something else. art (along with science and philosophy) can help us escape both the tyranny of orthodoxy and the dangers of chaos. 190 – 91). where it takes the form of the process Deleuze calls ‘counter-actualization’ (la contre-effectuation). There are. il est dans ce qui arrive le pur exprime ´ qui nous fait signe et nous attend’ (Logique du sens. In the face of constraint or chaos. Turner’. two enemies: ‘On dirait que la lutte contre le chaos ne va pas sans afﬁnite ´ avec l’ennemi. in the sense of its mobile event. of whom he says: ‘La 9 For excellent accounts of this process see the ﬁrst two chapters of Grosz. and bring back just enough of its energy to allow us to survive. 190). standardization. is: ‘ne pas confondre l’e temporelle dans un ´ etat de choses’ (p. famously. see also Williams. every event communicates with every other event. ‘Deleuze on J. despite itself. As he explains it here. of course. with the consequence that any local instance of suffering can always be opened towards the possibility of something else. W.
p. ´ extraordinaire’ Bacon: ‘un point de vitalite Composing (with) chaos and repetition to ﬁght deathliness and standardization. devenir la quasi-cause de ce qui se produit en nous [. preferring the frameworks we have just considered. somewhere else.]. mais porter la plainte et la fureur au point ou ` elles se retournent contre ce qui arrive’ ( Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?. but. . Gilles Deleuze’s ‘Logic of Sense’: A Critical Introduction and Guide (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 174) dire: ne pas e This is a Nietzschean imperative. 135 – 74. c’est donner a ` la ve ´rite ´ de l’e ´ve ´nement la chance unique de ne pas se confondre avec son ine ´vitable effectuation. . Equally. the chapter ‘Morals and Events’. pp. he tends not to use the concept of counteractualization when discussing works of art. For the sake of this helpful schematic clarity. esp. reaching out of misery towards vitality: this is how Deleuze understands art’s 10 On Logique du sens as a ‘moral philosophy’ see James Williams. I hope. p. Ou bien la morale n’a aucun sens. (p. l’identiﬁcation d’une distance [. The actor-dancer (Deleuze’s name in Logique du sens for the agent of counter-actualization) wrenches the event out of the grasp of the accident and afﬁrms differentiation as that mode of relationality capable of plugging into something else. In Logique du sens it is primarily an ethos. But — given Deleuze’s reading of the eternal return — it is not a matter simply of wanting any given happening (the accident) to be repeated: this is as conservative as it is impossible. a ` la ˆlure la chance de survoler son champ de surface incorporel sans s’arre ˆter au craquement dans fe chaque corps. I shall occasionally use this language. pourtant et d’autant plus’ (p. et a ` nous d’aller plus loin que nous n’aurions cru pouvoir. (Logique du sens. 188)10 Despite the importance of Bousquet. and the concept of counteractualization. on the contrary. 2008). ‘accident’ and ‘event’. invoking the amor fati of the eternal return. in Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? it becomes a philosophical process whose agent is now ‘le personnage conceptuel’ (p. this is because its key terms. Willing the event is. duly mindful of their conceptual speciﬁcities. et se perd en mimique. crystallize with especial clarity the play of miserable constriction and vital possibility in the broader Deleuzian dynamic of combative extraction.DELEUZE ON PAINTING 375 blessure qu’il porte profonde ´ ment dans son corps.]. Inspired by such examples. a way of approaching the business of living. in my discussions of the role of this dynamic in Deleuze’s encounters with painting. clearly. a combative process of extraction: ‘Non pas vouloir ce qui arrive. namely afﬁrmative differentiation and the production of forceful. If I introduce it here. the imperative for Deleuze becomes: Arriver a ` cette volonte ´ que nous fait l’e ´ve ´nement. elle n’a rien d’autre a ` ˆ tre indigne de ce qui nous arrive. ‘toujours pour d’autres fois’: doubler l’effectuation d’une contre-effectuation. energetic effects. 151). . . . 151). il l’appre ´ hende dans sa ve ´ rite ´ e ´ ternelle comme e ´ ve ´ nement pur. ou bien c’est cela qu’elle veut dire. Deleuze does not particularly connect counter-actualization to the operation of works of art. avec cette fausse volonte ´ qui se plaint et se de ´ fend. 174).
299 – 300. 1976). show him exploring precisely these dimensions. for Bacon’s evocation of paintings that impact directly on the nervous system see ibid. 229 – 54. ed. Deleuze derives this use of ‘le ﬁgural’ from Jean-Franc ¸ ois Lyotard’s Discours. Texts and Images in Twentieth-Century French Culture. par extraction ou isolation. 12)12 Deleuze aligns the Figure with Ce ´ zanne and ties it ﬁrmly to the production of sensation: ‘Cette voie de la Figure. which he elsewhere describes as ‘une base ne ´ cessaire’. ´serte: textes et entretiens. in Porous Boundaries: ˆ me Game (Oxford: Peter Lang. In particular I wish to investigate how Deleuze’s account of the invigorating force of Bacon’s paintings might usefully be supplemented by his analysis of Fromanger. ‘Deleuze’s Bacon’. L’Ile de 2002). 39). published in French in 1976. Deleuze reviewed Lyotard’s book for the Quinzaine litte ˆ ´ ditions de Minuit. ni histoire a ` raconter. Radical Philosophy. in Gilles Deleuze. ‘La Peinture enﬂamme l’e ´ criture’ (1981). I shall now consider each of these discussions in turn. the Figure pins the painting to what. Preface by Michel Leiris.376 MARTIN CROWLEY function. 2007). ed. 1953 – 1974 (Paris: E ‘Appre ´ciation’. 1975 – 1995. by Michel Leiris and Michael Peppiatt. ﬁgure ´raire in 1972: see (Paris: Klincksieck. trans. this place is taken by the latter’s equally invigorating confrontation with the rhythms of consumerism. elle agit imme ´diatement sur le syste ` me nerveux. 123 (2004). ‘Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation’. by Boundas and Olkowski. par abstraction. who historicize the ﬁgural as ‘[a] middle. I . pp. 137 – 50. in Deux re ´ ditions de Minuit. Deleuze’s appreciation of Bacon ﬁlls the pages of the only book-length study he devoted to a single artist in any medium. De ` s lors elle a comme deux voies possibles pour e ´ chapper au ﬁguratif: vers la forme pure. 30. 1971). 170). pp. pp. L’Art de l’imed. contextual material than is the case in his discussion of Bacon. focusing on the relation each displays between contingent misery and sublime vitality. s’il prend la seconde voie. 39). 29 – 40. Place and Virtuality: Gilles Deleuze with Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti’. narratif. pp. by Je ´ro 12 As he acknowledges. Ce ´ zanne lui donne un nom simple: la sensation. by David Lapoujade (Paris: E possible: entretiens avec David Sylvester. 2003). and his corresponding production of what Deleuze calls the Figure. In this emphasis on the effect of the Figure on the nervous system. 13 ´gimes de fous: textes et entretiens. 2 vols (Geneva: Albert Skira.. ce sera donc pour opposer le ‘ﬁgural’ au ‘ﬁguratif ’.13 Freed from anecdote.11 His analysis starts from Bacon’s noted rejection of narrative and primary ﬁguration. (Logique de la sensation. c’est la forme sensible rapporte ´e a ` la sensation. 44. in Gilles Deleuze and the Theater of Philosophy. Art & Language and Tom Baldwin. An alternative. ‘Space. one might say quietly British category’. and Timothy Mathews. . Deleuze is following statements from Bacon’s extensive interviews with David Sylvester. Si le peintre tient a ` la Figure. illustratif. See Francis Bacon. que la Figure aurait ne ´cessairement si elle n’e ´ tait pas isole ´e. Deleuze calls 11 On Deleuze’s interpretation of Bacon see in particular Dana Polan. ou bien vers le pur ﬁgural. In his analysis of Bacon. my aim here will be to explore whether this earlier approach can enhance the force of combative extraction available from the better-known. after Bacon. pp. ‘a project of artistic conservatism’ emerging from the refusal of abstraction in ofﬁcial British art culture from the late 1930s (‘Deleuze’s Bacon’. later account. sceptical note is sounded by Art & Language and Baldwin. In that analysis he seems prepared to allow the paintings more room to engage in critical negotiation of local. it is the invigorating encounter with the abyss that is most to the fore. qui est de la chair’ (p. He asks why Bacon’s ﬁgures are invariably isolated: Bacon le dit souvent: pour conjurer le caracte `re ﬁguratif. Gilles Deleuze. La peinture n’a ni mode `le a ` repre ´senter. 167 – 72 (p. p. La Figure. in his earlier essay on Fromanger. accordingly. His two extended discussions of the work of particular artists.
L’Art de l’impossible. comme dit Bacon avec des mots tre ` s proches de ceux de Ce ´ zanne. elle est cette force invisible que la vie de ´tecte. ou ` une perception plus profonde de la ` l’on ouvre les domaines sensibles qui conduisent a re ´ alite ´ de l’image’ (Bacon. its sensation. 41) elles ne de ´ gagent pas la Figure. elles n’agissent pas directement sur le syste `me nerveux. . 65. d’un “domaine” a ` un autre. cette ﬁguration seconde repose sur la neutralisation de toute ﬁguration primaire. it is the fact of the painting. ‘to record the fact’ here means to produce sensation-as-differentiation. et dit qu’il faut renoncer a ` l’une pour atteindre a ` l’autre. despite themselves. ‘mais c’est un point de vitalite ´ extraordinaire’: Quand Bacon distingue deux violences. mais justement la mort n’est pas ce trop-visible qui nous fait de [. d’un “niveau” a ` un autre. . the cliche ´ (what Deleuze also here calls the spectacle) can be ruined: the artist can effect an encounter with the forces of life its regime seeks to control. . for Bacon: ˆ me reproche a on peut faire le me ` la peinture ﬁgurative et a ` la peinture abstraite: elles passent par le cerveau. writes Deleuze. (p. 129). 16 See Bacon. (Logique de la sensation.16 The sensational. or the trivially sensational: ˆ me si l’on remarque pratiquement. c’est une espe ` ce de de ´claration de foi dans la vie.DELEUZE ON PAINTING 14 377 its fact. les domaines qu’elle traverse’ (p. the production of the Figure is no small matter. . . c’est ce qui se passe d’un “ordre” a ` un autre. he seeks to ˆ t que l’horreur’ (p. Bacon thus emerges as perfect for Deleuze: where we might have expected pain. mais a ` de nombreux niveaux. its production of sensation. 42). no doubt. the fact. and of a new. ‘C’est tre `s curieux’. . in sum. I . he continues. [. of a sensation that touches the nervous system. The imperative is again Ce ´ zanne’s: ‘peindre la sensation. 43). 68. that difference of intensity that is life.] En tout cas Bacon n’a pas cesse ´ de vouloir e ´liminer le ‘sensationnel’. 42) As Bacon puts it (in words that Deleuze quotes with approval). comme Bacon le fait. it results speciﬁcally from the work Bacon does to overcome the ﬁgurative. to get through the horror (with its in‘peindre le cri pluto ` la viocessant attendant stories) to its truth. I . The fact is not to be confused with something like a documentary impulse: on the contrary. c’est-a ` -dire la ﬁguration primaire de ce qui provoque une sensation violente. ‘que la sensation. enregistrer le fait’ (p. de ´busque et fait voir en criant. elles n’acce `dent pas a ` la sensation.] La vie crie a ´faillir. we ﬁnd works in which these are turned inside out to offer an encounter with the life that. haptic visuality. ‘Bacon ne cesse pas de dire’. writes Deleuze. . [.15 Counter-intuitively. ` la mort. 81. ˆme niveau.’ Accordingly. 13. ou. p. Celle-ci ne fait qu’un avec son action directe sur le syste ` me nerveux. non pas comme simple fait. In Deleuze’s account.] Tout un 14 Deleuze takes up Bacon’s use of the phrase ‘matter of fact’ and its variants throughout Logique de la sensation: see. horror. 11. they cannot but afﬁrm. 15 In the version of Bacon’s words read by Deleuze: ‘enregistrer le fait. que quelque chose est quand me ˆme me ﬁgure ´ (par exemple un pape qui crie). et cela parce qu’elles en restent a ` un seul et me As these failures suggest. 40). for example. le cliche ´ ) s’oppose la violence de la sensation. pp. 97. celle du spectacle et celle de la sensation. L’Art de l’impossible. that other violence: ‘A lence du repre ´ sente ´ (le sensationnel. les niveaux par lesquels elle passe.
mais au service d’une Figure de la vie de plus en plus forte. on the plane of composition. a syncopated pulse to play against the monoculture of the spectacle (‘ce trop-visible qui nous fait de ´ faillir’ (p. pp. Out of the miserable accident (horror. The problem turns on Deleuze’s treatment of persisting literal ﬁguration. 103). Bacon gives us a rhythm. ‘Deleuze on J. 95 – 96). We have already seen the enthusiasm with which Deleuze receives Bacon’s aesthetic of effectivity. C’est un violent chaos par rapport aux donne ´ es ﬁguratives. limited. narrative. Turner’. In the painting. I shall now brieﬂy explore these limitations before moving on to consider whether Deleuze’s earlier account of Fromanger might offer possibilities through which they could helpfully be addressed. 62)). Michel Leiris cites the speciﬁc example of Bacon’s 1971 Triptych — In Memory of ˆ me George Dyer George Dyer. M. Michel Leiris. 244 – 45. Touching the chaos. or anecdote. . 1995). p.18 Which is true: the painting as such cannot 17 18 On this see Williams. especially his insistence on painting as addressed primarily to the nervous system. he writes. however. possibility. Francis Bacon. mais ﬁguralement optimiste’ (p. une catastrophe. Accordingly. (Logique de la sensation. Deleuze cannot be thought to neglect this literal realm: this is precisely the order of primary ﬁguration whose ruination allows the production of the Figure.17 Deleuze’s account of Bacon is both invigorating and true. on the energies of chaos. ce serait ﬁgurativement pessimiste. of sensation. p. and his associated refusal of history.378 MARTIN CROWLEY mise ´ rabilisme ﬁguratif. ´ du fait (Paris: Seuil. mais aussi un germe d’ordre ou de rythme. Discussing the refusal of anecdote in his 1983 essay Francis Bacon. ‘[l]a formule de Bacon. face et proﬁl. Let us now consider one such work. and works better in relation to some of Bacon’s paintings than others. constriction). ‘ne repose pas essentiellement sur l’e ´ ve ´ nement vrai ou suppose ´ qu’elle e ´ voque’. Referring to the suicide of its subject (‘ce me pre ´ sent dans maints tableaux et qui venait alors de ﬁnir tragiquement’). But his wholesale identiﬁcation of the force of Bacon’s paintings with this process of ruination means that his account works best when this is most energetically at work. 46). in Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?: ‘Sortir de la catastrophe . Bacon siphons off something of its force — just enough to wreck the stratifying regime of ﬁgurative representation and make this force resonate here. 61 – 62) Accordingly. 109. ou La brutalite . . and least well in relation to those paintings in which primary ﬁguration proves most persistent. Leiris expressly minimizes the role of reference to any such sensational context in the evaluation of any given painting: ‘le pouvoir de cette surface peinte au titre jamais raccrocheur’. Breaking through the chaos (the initial ruination of ﬁgurative organization). thanks to Bacon. mais c’est un germe de rythme par rapport au nouvel ordre de la peinture’ (pp. pp.’ (Logique de la sensation. towards vitality. It is also. with Guattari. becomes the phrase he would develop. we thus encounter ‘un chaos. Logique de la sensation contains in germ exactly the relation between art and chaos developed in that later work. And Deleuze’s watchword. W. Indeed.
but never abandoned. which Deleuze shares. if it is reduced to the expression of determinate biographical content. by ﬁguring a Bacon portrait of Dyer. it would be part of the afﬁrmation of a lively. declared in the dissolution of primary ﬁguration and especially. Equally. as Leiris demonstrates in his reference to ‘ce me George Dyer pre ´ sent dans maints tableaux’. But encountering this painting as such. . For in this case the biographical fact of Dyer’s suicide is not simply external to the work. 61). of course. however.19 Deleuze is right. let alone encountered in all its life-afﬁrming intensity. or generated by his gallerists. The painting’s third panel tells us this. in two ways. We could easily imagine the painting functioning in the absence of any contextual information whatsoever. ‘une espe ` ce de de ´ claration de foi dans la vie’ (Logique de la sensation. and ﬁnally puddles on to the ﬂoor. Transcendentally — with regard to the conditions of possibility of the action of Bacon’s painting — Deleuze is right. For here. But nor is the work separable from this prehistory. For this painting to function in such a fashion now. it must be split from the 19 It may be worth noting that this is not one of the many triptychs Deleuze discusses in the section he devotes to the form (Logique de la sensation. The work can hardly be reduced to this persisting primary ﬁguration. which it chooses to make unavoidable. and does ﬁght against the forces of death and chaos in this way. What is this pool of chestnut paint? For Deleuze. Secondly. The title is paratextual. The accident is opened. in the rhythmic rebounds generated by the compositional play between Figures. familiar as that of Dyer to any viewer of Bacon’s works. slides away from ﬁguration. and Bacon’s titles were apparently as often as not afterthoughts. properly painterly struggle against the forces of death. and encountering ‘le pouvoir de cette surface peinte’ as such. pp. 73 – 81). the presence across this work’s three panels of what Deleuze would call ˆ me its primary ﬁguration is. there are many of Bacon’s paintings that make no determinate reference to contextual material. it is an element of the work’s workings. and whose operation is perfectly celebrated in Deleuze’s account of their more general counter-actualization of horror into vitality. p. what we saw above as ‘un point de vitalite ´ extraordinaire’. as Leiris points out — thereby introduces this fact into the ﬁeld of the work. it rules itself out of this encounter by virtue of the exclusion that establishes it in the ﬁrst place. stuck to the work. but entails — encountering the unhappily sensational fact of Dyer’s suicide. which — however much it avoids mere showiness. and importantly so: the work cannot be reduced to the anecdotes of its prehistory. and more substantively. the effect of Bacon’s composition is to have the pool of paint leaking from Dyer’s head free itself from an order of ﬁguration to which it remains irreducibly attached. has a singular weakness in relation to a work such as this triptych: clearing the ground for an encounter with the painting as such. however extreme. which is not encountered without it. But there it is. But this position. which deliquesces. in Bacon’s triptychs.DELEUZE ON PAINTING 379 even be addressed. entails — is not reducible to. it is referenced in the title of the triptych. First.
Fynsk. supplement his reluctance to do this in relation to Bacon. and Deleuze see Sarah Wilson. tying him back to the deathly regime of representation: to emphasize the persistence of primary ﬁguration is not to reduce the paintings to this order. for Deleuze. 22 On the treatments of Fromanger by Guattari. pp. mutilation). Deleuze does elaborate elsewhere a version of combative painterly extraction that displays a greater willingness to tarry with the ﬁguration of contingent constraints. which is diminished by the refusal of literal detail in cases in which the work itself persists with such detail precisely in order to map the accident in question. of insisting. While this model works well for many. in cases such as the 1971 Dyer triptych. I would contend that. See C. 2010). marked in the remaining form of this particular. In such cases. but a dangerous distraction from the painting’s livelier energies. 69). be a matter of choosing between miserable ﬁguration and some unblemished alternative. and more precise (this lover’s suicide). on this process as one of extraction. . it is also what we ﬁnd in his analysis of Fromanger. Where the misery in question is less general (horror. in this respect ‘Deleuze may be too rapid’. the process to which Bacon subjects the ﬁgurative moment is not quite captured by Deleuze’s account of its ruination: it proves more persistent. determinate accident. It cannot. it is a matter of assessing the force of the process to which this ﬁguration is subjected. perhaps most. in which primary ﬁguration is more decisively retained. Rather.21 `me d’inductions simultane ´es’ Fromanger: ‘un syste Happily.20 Granted. Out of This World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation (London: Verso. his account missing ‘something that Bacon persists in seeking to capture in his subjects — what he calls a residue of reality. For a broader critique of Deleuze along similar lines see Peter Hallward. 126 – 55. 2006). and might. Foucault. Bacon’s work always entails a ﬁgurative moment whose ruination produces the Figure. This other version is what we have found at work in the ´rence et re ´pe ´tition of art’s ability to extract lively differentiation account in Diffe from within consumerist repetition. in fact. we may need an account of painterly possibility that is more willing to extract vitality from the literal detail of this accident. that multiple context within and against which it exerts its extractive power. its residues harder to shift. Infant Figures: The Death of the ‘Infans’ and Other Scenes of Origin (Stanford. 21 A harsher version of this criticism is provided by Art & Language and Baldwin. the dynamic of combative extraction suggests that these energies can most effectively be tapped in and against their relation with the realm of contingency. 38 – 39 (emphasis original). This is not a matter of reining Deleuze in. The Visual World of French Theory: Figurations (New Haven. CT: Yale University Press. or an “essence”’. As we have seen. accordingly. CA: Stanford University Press. p. of Bacon’s paintings. for whom Deleuze ‘engulfs’ Bacon in a world ‘without material and political contingency’ (‘Deleuze’s Bacon’. presented for our recognition. 2000). inevitable perhaps. pp. Fynsk concludes: ‘I believe we need to hold to this residue if we are to appreciate Bacon’s “realism”’.380 MARTIN CROWLEY context of literality and anecdote that for now is part of its mode of existence. p. Deleuze does allow the necessity of what he calls ‘une ﬁguration malgre ´ tout subsistante’ (Logique de la sensation. therefore. but as the waste product of necessary processes of ruination.22 20 As Christopher Fynsk writes. 35).
’24 The silhouette of the painter implies something like an embedded critical perspective on this cornucopia. un voyage qui est celui des couleurs. Le peintre et l’amour. rather. The Visual World of French Theory. de toute fac ¸on. whose gaze we cannot see (he is blacked out. the world of commodiﬁcation. We should be careful. says Deleuze (with a nod to the various shop windows that feature in the paintings). which is to say. the paintings. however. Fromanger develops the techniques of earlier series such as Le Rouge (1970) and Le Boulevard des Italiens (1971): a nascent world of consumerism and leisure is depicted in a colourful. for it would be a serious mistake to conclude that Deleuze has abandoned his hostility to a mimetic concept of art. nuptiales. tout est mesure ´ a ` l’unique mode `le Marchandise qui circule avec le peintre. et dans chaque tableau un voyage.DELEUZE ON PAINTING 381 As might be expected from a painter associated with the ‘Figuration Narrative’ tendency. and in this case Deleuze is happy for them to do `le — discussed by so. Deleuze’s opening sentences make this clear: ‘Le mode ` le du peintre. sur la ﬁguration en ge 24 ˆle de ´serte. mais une circulation qui est celle de la valeur d’e ´change. (‘Le Froid et le chaud’. his back to us) but who acts as a relay for our own encounter with this imagery. the everyday world beyond the paintings. 344). le peintre et la nourriture. 2005). but suggests precisely the intelligence of his approach: observing this conveyor belt of goodies. pp. is the conﬁrmation of 23 ´ en peinture: essai sur la Figuration Narrative et On ‘Figuration Narrative’ see Raymond Perrot. une circulation des tons. In this way. le peintre et l’auto: mais d’un mode `le a ` l’autre. De la narrativite ´ne ´ral (Paris: L’Harmattan.’ he writes. mais cette fois expose time ‘le me ´ chez le marchand. 344). le peintre et la mort. in a fairly straightforward sense. it insists that the commodities in question are always in relation. e ´ rotiques. une promenade qui n’est pas seulement celle du peintre a ` travers les magasins. balne ´ aires. ‘c’est la marchandise. It is possible. in L’I . p. The world of the paintings is. (p. 344) This co-implication is not a shortcoming on Fromanger’s part. crucially. Fromanger’s tableau devenus eux-me paintings both set up a play of properly visual energies (the play of colours between images) and extract the economic principle that sustains their modish furniture: D’un tableau a ` l’autre. What he ﬁnds here. alimentaires. Toutes sortes de marchandises: vestimentaires. almost cartoonish manner close to much of the advertising of its day. le peintre et son ˆmes marchandises’ (p. to consider the series as representing each ˆme tableau. silhouette noire: il a l’air de regarder. have the historical wit to factor themselves into this equation. Gilles Deleuze. But this obscure perspective never quite overcomes the commodities it appears to observe: Le peintre est toujours pre ´sent. 344) This critical performance of the circulation of exchange value is effected by the recognizable depiction of objects and arenas of consumption (including the place of the painting as commodity). observed by the silhouetted ﬁgure of the artist. however. ‘Le Froid et le chaud’ (1973). structurally. 344 – 50 (p. Fromanger’s paintings maintain a good deal more primary ﬁguration than does Bacon.23 In the series of paintings — entitled Le Peintre et le mode Deleuze. and Wilson.
la haine qui peut entourer un marchandise. extracting this chance against the conformist imaginary by which it remains surrounded. derivative. persisting primary ﬁguration is not ruined: it is worked as a point of contact on to something else. we can see what Deleuze’s understanding of this extractive dynamic in Fromanger can add to the way he will come to understand it in Bacon. l’e ´ ventuelle be 25 Sarah Wilson recounts that this point comes directly from the brainstorming sessions that led to Deleuze’s article. and she notes its reappearance on p.382 MARTIN CROWLEY this hostility. et qui fait pre ´cise ´ ment qu’il n’y a plus de copie ni de mode p. Turned inside out to open a channel. 347). Fromanger — extracts an Exactly as in Diffe emancipatory truth (no need to bow down before a Platonism that subordinates what is to the authority of an absent model) from the misery of standardization (the serial production of consumer goods). ‘le tableau fonctionne a ` partir du de ´ chet de photo non moins que la photo. un simulacre. with the result that ‘[u]ne e ´ trange vie circule. in what Deleuze calls ‘un syste ` me d’inductions simultane ´ es’ (p. mais qu’il a toujours peint sur une image. pp. he writes: ‘Pop’Art ou peinture pour un “plus de re ´ alite ´ ”’ (p. Fromanger thus reveals ‘une ve ´ rite ´e ´ ternelle de la peinture’: que jamais le peintre n’a peint sur la surface blanche de la toile pour reproduire un objet fonctionnant comme mode ` le. case. the domination of the same which connects the economics of commodiﬁcation to the aesthetics of mimesis. et la copie de copie. Hence his decision to open his analysis with the statement that ‘Le mode ` le du peintre. a ` partir des couleurs constituantes du tableau’. 348): the production of that vital ﬂow which will allow us to ﬁght its stultifying grip. though in this case more systematically — involves working with photographs. c’est la marchandise’: what the Platonism of the commodity disavows but can be made to disclose is that the ‘original’ is already a standardized reproduction. exaggerating this seriality until it turns inside out. Pop Art — here. Fromanger’s working method — like Bacon’s.’ writes Deleuze. and afﬁrms the lively differentiation that such standardization seeks to conﬁne. pp. une ombre de ˆme renverse le rapport du mode l’objet. Painting here proceeds by working a deathly stock of images to create an opening for vitality. shopworn. 139 – 40). force vitale’ (‘Le Froid et le chaud’. ‘Fromanger sait la nocivite ´ de son mode ` le. 345)25 ´rence et re ´pe ´tition. In his account of Fromanger. As Deleuze puts it. as a negative pole. (‘Le Froid et le chaud’. by photographer E This method mobilizes the relationality of combative extraction with especial force: the new composite that is the painting sets in play a dynamic to and fro between its own colourful vibrations and the world of the photograph. et produit le mode renverse elle-me ` le’. In this observation of the interplay between the residual literality of the photograph and the vibrant energies of its painting’s colours. in his ´ lie Kagan and projected on to the canvas as a template. pour produire une toile dont le fonctionnement me `le et de `le. famously. it participates more actively. 345). la copie. . 57 of Logique de la sensation (The Visual World of French Theory. ‘Pousser la copie. ‘la ruse de la ˆ tise d’un passant. 346. already in circulation. provided. jusqu’au point ou ` elle se ˆ me.
349) Fromanger’s reference to the economic and existential speciﬁcs of contemporary life sets off the extractive force of his operation: his paintings ask us to grab the possibility of ‘une vie pour demain’ by entering into the antagonism they display. Fromanger asserts the force of vitality above the entropy of consumerist equivalence: his paintings celebrate vibrancy and differentiation in and against this regime of standardization. provides a kind of extraction whose greater willingness to tarry with contingent detail can supplement this inability. incessant. 349). its wreckage strewn all around — and we would do well not to let this wreckage distract us from the emancipatory force on to which the accident is thereby opened. in the way in which he arranges the two dimensions of the key operation of combative extraction. Fromanger details the iconography of consumerism — including the place of the painter — in such a way as to turn its system inside out. vital productivity it strives to reduce. In his analysis of Bacon. Patiently. de cette haine. as an explanation. Deleuze’s discussion of Fromanger. this will not quite do. I have argued that this version of combative extraction is unable to deal well with works in which this literal detail remains decisively present as part of an engagement with a determinate accident. reworking the contingencies of our suborned desire in such a way as to offer this desire the possibility of freeing itself from the circuit of consumption into which it is abusively channelled. p.DELEUZE ON PAINTING 383 ˆ me e peintre de ` s qu’il a des activite ´ s politiques. Joyfully. demanding the counter-actualization of this wound. in which the two poles of this dynamic are maintained more in a relation of ongoing tension. il ne fait pas un miroir narcisˆme et sur le sique pour une hypocrite re ´conciliation ge ´ne ´ ralise ´e. Deleuze terms this revolutionary. la haine qu’il peut lui-me ´ prouver. the difference between the forms of extraction Deleuze develops in these two accounts can be attributed to the approach of each painter to primary ﬁguration: clearly. then. Counter-information The difference between Deleuze’s accounts of Bacon and Fromanger lies. il sait extraire les froids et les chauds qui forment une vie pour demain. hanging stubbornly around. (‘Le Froid et le chaud’. namely misery and vitality. for at least some of Bacon’s paintings (as in the example of the 1971 Dyer triptych) create the force they offer precisely by pulling against persisting ﬁguration at its most stubborn. extracting from it an afﬁrmation of just that genuine. re ´pugnant. Deleuze is. But. In part. De ce qui est laid. in this sense. taking from each the speciﬁc kind of force on offer. Fromanger entertains more of this than Bacon does. haineux et haı ¨ssable. immense apitoiement sur soi-me monde. Explicitly. the miserable accident is ruined. In these cases we need to borrow something of the earlier version if we are to account for this force. de cette laideur. and he even issues an injunction: ‘Imaginons la froide re ´ volution comme devant re ´ chauffer le monde surchauffe ´ d’aujourd’hui’ (p. de cette ruse. .’ But here is the twist: Mais de cette nocivite ´ .
for Art & Language and Baldwin. perhaps. the artwork offers the possibility of encountering the differentiating forces of life. 254). ‘Deleuze on J. in Deux re Dana Polan writes: ‘There is undoubtedly a romanticism here. 27 See Deleuze and Guattari. the later version of combative extraction found in the essay on Bacon has its closest cousin in the pages on Turner in L’Anti-Œdipe. in and against the constraints imposed by the orthodox regime of ‘information’. p. the kind of ´rence et re ´pe ´tition never particular horizon at stake in the Fromanger piece and Diffe quite disappears: we found it. What has changed. the force of Logique de la sensation is precisely that it offers ‘new insights into the possibilities of art in our society of the spectacle’ (‘Francis Bacon’. over and against the ‘syste ` me contro ´ des mots d’ordre qui ont cours dans une socie ´ te ´ donne ´ e’.26 There is something in this story. he asks: 26 ´gimes de fous. its connection to a speciﬁc economic order. As Gilles Deleuze. ‘Qu’est-ce que l’acte de la cre ´ ation?’ (1987). less interested in speciﬁc. 30). stasis. 291 – 302 (p. the comparison I have pursued here certainly bears it out to an extent. p. p. as ‘counter-information’. 253). L’Anti-Œdipe. Deleuze’s account of this capacity is therefore most powerful. But how should we seek to do this? What kind of relation can we posit between these two versions of combative extraction? One answer would view the difference between them as a trend in Deleuze’s work. by the 1980s. Williams. the two versions give us an understanding of painting as able to help us ﬁght both deathly constriction and abyssal dissolution. 28 For Polan. in which the emphasis is similarly on the escape velocity achieved by breaking through the catastrophe. cliche ´ . pp. for example. I would argue. Deleuze’s account is ‘right out of the old bohemian’s charter’ (‘Deleuze’s Bacon’. M. the enemy envisaged in the later writings seems to shift from a speciﬁc economic regime to less precise notions of orthodoxy. miserable details. Turner’. ‘ce trop-visible qui nous fait de ´ faillir’ (p. Somewhere. ´rence et re ´pe ´tition and the Fromanger piece on the one hand. and. ‘Quel rapport y a-t-il entre la lutte des hommes et l’œuvre d’art?’. pp. a longing for a purity of force stultiﬁed by modern living’ (‘Francis Bacon’. 157 – 58. For one thing. and the between Diffe Bacon monograph and Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? on the other. as the details of the particular regime to be opposed gradually lose signiﬁcance. 300). on this. Equally. and art is celebrated as what Deleuze in 1987 calls ‘la ˆ le contre-information’. it has nonetheless receded. the sensationalist reduction of vitality to mere ﬁguration. 62).28 For the enemy is always representation: the Platonic – consumerist fantasy of valuable originals and degraded copies.384 MARTIN CROWLEY Together. But it is not the whole story. There is a trajectory discernible in which Deleuze’s position comes to look increasingly like a standard Romantic– modernist assertion of art as welcome heterodoxy. and the degree of detail with which it is evoked: not quite out of sight. And certainly. perhaps. W. is the place of this horizon.27 This is clearly not just a matter of chronology. In his 1987 talk Deleuze argues that. but which are more or less contemporary with the piece on Fromanger. . in Deleuze’s reference in Logique de la sensation to the order of the spectacle. his account of art’s revitalizing capacity becomes more general. if we can manage to work with the two in tandem.
always. Il n’y a pas d’œuvre d’art qui ne fasse appel a ` un peuple qui n’existe pas encore. more lively possibility. cela veut dire que cette afﬁnite ´ fondamentale entre l’œuvre d’art et un peuple qui n’existe pas encore n’est pas. Le peuple manque et en me manque pas. calls out to an as yet non-existent people. ‘la contre-information n’a jamais sufﬁ a ` faire quoi que ce soit’ (‘Qu’est-ce que l’acte de la cre ´ ation?’. Le peuple manque.DELEUZE ON PAINTING 385 Le rapport le plus e ´ troit et pour moi le plus myste ´rieux. Exactement ce que Paul Klee voulait dire ˆme temps. to pull away from the deathly grip of not just the vortices of chaos. p. for example in the kinds of painting discussed here. Rather. . (‘Qu’est-ce que l’acte de la cre ´ation?’. and to do more justice to Deleuze’s tenacity. but also our everyday. 29 This is famously echoed four years later in the ‘geophilosophy’ of Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?: see esp. 302)29 On the one hand. We should not content ourselves with this permanent invitation: as Deleuze says. pp. as a permanent invitation. ne sera jamais claire. this can suggest a vagueness within Deleuze’s later position: every work of art. that is. le peuple manque’. The less speciﬁc modality of extraction that we ﬁnd mostly in Deleuze’s later writings on the visual arts might thus serve as something like a medium within which — when ´rence et re ´pe ´tition possible — the tighter modality of ‘Le Froid et le chaud’ and Diffe can be implanted and nurtured. On the other hand. p. 104 – 05. organized misery — towards some other. il ne quand il disait: ‘Vous savez. 300). the generalized character of this call means precisely that it can never be overlooked. we might take it as a challenge to re-explore the potential of combative extraction: the chance it offers. to the possibility of effective transformation.
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