The troubled, tumultous creative genius of Francis Bacon

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Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait 1952, oil and sand on canvas, 66.1 x 56.1 cm © Estate of Francis Bacon, all rights reserved, DACS 2016 | Via The Tate

April 28, On This Day

Of screaming portraits

Bacon photographed in the early 1950s | wikimedia

Known for his raw, unsettling imagery, Irish-born British figurative painter Francis Bacon was born in October 1909 and passed away on April 28, 1992.

He built up a reputation as one of the giants of contemporary art with his unique style, and his artworks focused on subjects including crucifixions, abstracted figures sometimes isolated in geometrical structures, and ‘screaming’ portraits: of popes, himself, and close friends — typically the human form.

Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait 1952, oil and sand on canvas, 66.1 x 56.1 cm | © Estate of Francis Bacon, all rights reserved, DACS 2016 | Via The Tate

 

Three Studies for a Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, 1963

He often brought out art in triptych or diptych formats, and was influenced over his career by Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Alberto Giacometti and Henri Matisse. Bacon led a troubled life, dealing periodically with ostracisation (by his family as an LGBTQ person), early career upheavals, frequent brawls, and the death of close ones (the suicide of his lover George Dyer in 1971).

Francis Bacon Triptych – In Memory of George Dyer 1971 | Oil on canvas | 1980 x 1475 mm each | © The Estate of Francis Bacon/DACS 2008 Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel | Via The Tate

Since his death, Bacon’s reputation has grown steadily, and his work is among the most acclaimed, expensive and sought-after on the art market. Previously assumed destroyed portraits have re-emerged to set record prices at auction.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944. Oil and pastel on Sundeala board. Tate Britain, London

You can read fascinating biographical articles about him here and here.

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