Irish-born English painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) created work that remains unmatched in raw force and vitality, and he is widely considered one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. Critic Ronald Jones has described his themes as "the howling subjects with which Bacon struggled--Existentialism, Abstract Expressionism and the primal drama of a world newly acquainted with the Bomb." Bacon was preoccupied with probing the isolation and terror of the human condition, which he chiefly conveyed through a labored distortion of the human body. As Sam Hunter--who penned one of the first major essays on Bacon in 1950--writes in his introductory essay to this volume, "what has become increasingly clear with the test of time...is the clarity, durability and powerful authority of his visual discourse." This concise monograph presents an in-depth survey of Bacon's entire oeuvre. British artist Francis Bacon is one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century. His canvases of the 1940s bore witness to the traumatized psychology of the time and bestowed upon him a prominence that did not diminish in the course of his 50-year career. Recent auction sales have confirmed his works as some of the most sought-after of the Modern era.
The painting of Francis Bacon (1909-1992) defines the shattered self-image of Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War, and his wracked human figures are now basic to the twentieth century's visual lexicon. Clearing away all moral scaffolding, Bacon made room for what he called "the brutality of fact" to implode onto his canvases, paring back his subjects to animal function and bloodlust. In Bacon the figure is almost always isolated and pitched against an unforgiving interior lit only by a bare light bulb (one could write an interesting history of the light bulb in art, tracking its trajectory from, say, Van Gogh to Vuillard's lamplight, to the desolate hanging bulbs of Bacon and Philip Guston). Francis Bacon had few better critics of his work than himself--as witnessed in this superb statement of intent to David Sylvester: "What I want to do is distort the thing far beyond the appearance, but in the distortion to bring it back to a recording of the appearance." But one of the few writers whose sensibility he trusted was the French author Michel Leiris. Leiris shared Bacon's feel for nerve-end acuity in art, as his great autobiography Manhood attests, and with Bacon's sanction, wrote the essay for Poligrafa's landmark monograph of 1987, which also included a selection of 240 key paintings made by Bacon himself. That volume, an essential text for Bacon fans and scholars, is here revised and reprinted for the first time.
Published by Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Essay by Hugh M. Davies.
Francis Bacon: The Papal Portraits of 1953 explores the largest series of paintings made by the British artist Francis Bacon. For the first time, this book collects all eight Study for Portrait paintings, the famous "Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X" from 1953 and several other works from the period. An essay by Hugh M. Davies, who has written extensively about Bacon, discusses his influences and sources of imagery for this body of work. Also included is a previously unpublished interview with Bacon that Davies conducted more than 25 years ago. Rounded out with a chronology and selected bibliography, Papal Portraits is a major document for the study of this vital and influential twentieth-century master.