The Flesh Eaters

William Baziotes (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1912–1963 New York, New York)
Oil and charcoal on canvas
60 x 72 1/8 in. (152.4 x 183.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, George A. Hearn Fund, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, and Hearn Funds, Bequest of Charles F. Iklé, and Gifts of Mrs. Carroll J. Post and Mrs. George S. Amory, by exchange, 1995
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 913
Like the Surrealists he admired and his fellow Abstract Expressionists, Baziotes was fascinated by the power of myth. Here, his title and imagery suggest the story of the Cyclops, the one-eyed giant who devoured Odysseus’s sailors in Homer’s epic poem. In this ambitious work, Baziotes applied layer upon layer of oil paint and rubbed it into the canvas to create a shimmering, opalescent surface that evokes an underwater world inhabited by undulating biomorphic forms. Characteristically, the artist combined menacing forms with luminous colors to create a paradoxical work that is both repulsive and compelling.
#2000. The Flesh Eaters, Part 1
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Inscription: Signed (lower right): Baziotes
the artist, New York (1952–d. 1963); his widow, Ethel Baziotes, New York (1963–95; sold through Blum Helman Gallery, New York to MMA)

Pittsburgh. Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute. "The Pittsburgh International," October 16–December 14, 1952, no. 18 (lent by the artist).

Newport Beach, Calif. Newport Harbor Art Museum. "William Baziotes: A Retrospective Exhibition," March 24–June 4, 1978, no. 19 (lent by the Estate of William Baziotes, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, Inc., New York).

University of Texas, Austin. "William Baziotes: A Retrospective Exhibition," June 18–August 6, 1978, no. 19.

College Park. University of Maryland Art Gallery. "William Baziotes: A Retrospective Exhibition," August 24–October 7, 1978, no. 19.

Ithaca, N. Y. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University. "William Baziotes: A Retrospective Exhibition," October 25–December 10, 1978, no. 19.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: 1993–1995," July 28–September 24, 1995, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Surrealism: Desire Unbound," February 6–May 12, 2002, not in catalogue (NY only).

Venice. Peggy Guggenheim Collection. "William Baziotes: Paintings and Drawings 1934–1962," September 5, 2004–January 9, 2005, no. 30.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Born in 1912: A Centennial Tribute," April 24–October 14, 2012, no catalogue.

Irving Sandler. "Baziotes: Modern Mythologist." ARTnews 63 (February 1965), p. 31, ill.

Barbara Cavaliere in William Baziotes: A Retrospective Exhibition. Exh. cat., Newport Harbor Art Museum. Newport Beach, 1978, pp. 14, 54–55, no. 19, ill. p. 73 (color).

Mona Hadler in William Baziotes: A Retrospective Exhibition. Exh. cat., Newport Harbor Art Museum. Newport Beach, 1978, p. 79.

Nan Rosenthal in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1994–1995." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 53 (Autumn 1995), p. 64, ill. (color).

Roberta Smith. "Avoiding the Hip, the Trendy, and the Political." New York Times (September 8, 1995), p. C24, ill.

Michael Preble in William Baziotes: Paintings and Drawings, 1934–1962. Exh. cat., Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. Milan, 2004, pp. 27, 30, 88–89, no. 30, ill. (color).