Francis Bacon

Ireland, 1909 - 1992

Francis Bacon’s unmistakable works explore the body in states of distress. His contorted figures communicate psychological trauma through slightly abstracted bodily depictions of emotion and vulnerable physicality. Among his signature images are screaming and disfigured heads, grappling lovers, and flanks of meat. Bacon distorts these abstracted figures and typically isolates them in glass or steel geometrical cages, set against flat, nondescript backgrounds. Bacon established his permanent place as one of the most acclaimed British artists of the 20th century by clearly suggesting a sense of motion within these bleak struggles of the human condition. Bacon’s style is derived from his desire to use photography and film stills as sources for portraits. He often focused on producing triptych or diptychs of a single subject or format for extended periods of time. A central theme of the crucifixion also frequently appears in Bacon’s work through his desire to reevaluate and redefine the numerous images so widely produced by the old masters into a more modern sense of relatability. Bacon drew influence from a wide range of artists and often made explicit visual references to many of their works in his paintings. He is often credited as the most important painter of the disquieting human figure in the 20th century, and completely changing the post-war British art scene with his “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion” in 1944.

Born in Dublin, Bacon was the subject of two Tate retrospectives and a major showing in 1971 at the Grand Palais. Since his death his reputation and market value have grown steadily, and his work is amongst the world’s most acclaimed and sought-after. Bacon’s works are held worldwide in numerous public collections, including the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern and Academy of Arts in London.

Image: Photo by D. Kasterine, 1979