The Flesh Eaters

Artist: William Baziotes (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1912–1963 New York, New York)

Date: 1952

Medium: Oil and charcoal on canvas

Dimensions: 60 x 72 1/8 in. (152.4 x 183.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

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: 1995.234

Rights and Reproduction: © Estate of William Baziotes


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.