Sacred Noise at Christie’s in London



Sacred Noise is a curated display currently on view at Christie’s in London and running until 21st July.

The brilliant show explores themes of spirituality, religion, and faith with magnificent works by masters such as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Marlene Dumas and Francisco de Zurbarán among many other very significant artists. Visitors are welcomed by a light on the floor mimicking a Cathedral’s glass window.

Highlights include the impressive and vibrant Francisco de Zurbarán’s Christ on the Cross, with the Virgin and Saint Mary Magdalene and John the Evangelist. The contrast in colours instantly reflects the painter’s engagement with light and shadows. The composition, the purity of the background and the vibrant burgundy of the drape worn by John the Evangelist intrinsically elevate the painting to spiritual heights. The painting is from a private collection.

The exhibition culminates with a special room dedicated to Maurizio Cattelan’s, La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), 1999 (from Pinault’s personal collection) which resonates with Francis Bacon’s anthropomorphic Pope placed in the previous room. The installation depicts a life-size replica of Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite. A truly iconoclastic image, the piece caused a holy row when it was put on show in the Pope’s homeland of Poland in 2000. Moving fluidly to another theme, Sacred Noise also touches on the subversion of religious representation, still prevalent today.

Francis Bacon’s iconic anthropomorphic Popes represent the apogee of Bacon’s oeuvre and visitors are lucky to see one in this exhibition.  ‘It’s true, of course, the Pope is unique. He’s put in a unique position by being the Pope, and therefore, like in certain great tragedies, he’s as though raised onto a dais on which the grandeur of this image can be displayed to the world.’ Bacon explained.



Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960), La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), 1999. Polyester resin, painted wax, human hair, fabric, clothing, accessories, stone and carpet dimensions variable. Pinault Collection © Maurizio Cattelan. Photo: Zeno Zotti

Francis Bacon (1909-1992), Study, 1955. Oil on canvas. 42¾ x 29¾ in (108.6 x 75.6 cm). Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia (UEA 30) © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2018. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd