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Francis Bacon

Irish Painter

Movements and Styles: School of London, Expressionism

Born: October 28, 1909 - Dublin, Ireland

Died: April 28, 1992 - Madrid, Spain

Francis Bacon Timeline

"I would like my picture to look as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail leaving its trail of the human presence... as a snail leaves its slime."

Francis Bacon Signature

Summary

Francis Bacon produced some of the most iconic images of wounded and traumatized humanity in post-war art. Borrowing inspiration from Surrealism, film, photography, and the Old Masters, he forged a distinctive style that made him one of the most widely recognized exponents of figurative art in the 1940s and 1950s. Bacon concentrated his energies on portraiture, often depicting habitues of the bars and clubs of London's Soho neighborhood. His subjects were always portrayed as violently distorted, almost slabs of raw meat, that are isolated souls imprisoned and tormented by existential dilemmas. One of the most successful British painters of the 20th century, Bacon's reputation was elevated further during the "art world's" widespread return to painting in the 1980s, and after his death he became regarded by some as one of the world's most important painters.

Key Ideas

Bacon's canvases communicate powerful emotions - whole tableaux seem to scream, not just the people depicted on them. This ability to create such powerful statements were foundational for Bacon's unique achievement in painting.
Surrealism, and in particular biomorphism, shaped the style of Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944), the work that launched Bacon's reputation when it was exhibited in London in the final weeks of World War II. The work established many of the themes that would occupy the rest of his career, namely humanity's capacity for self-destruction and its fate in an age of global war.
Bacon established his mature style in the late 1940s when he evolved his earlier Surrealism into an approach that borrowed from depictions of motion in film and photography, in particular the studies of figures in action produced by the early photographer Eadweard Muybridge. From these Bacon not only pioneered new ways to suggest movement in painting, but to bring painting and photography into a more coherent union.
Although Bacon's success rested on his striking approach to figuration, his attitudes toward painting were profoundly traditional. The Old Masters were an important source of inspiration for him, particularly Diego Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X (c.1650) which Bacon used as the basis for his own famous series of "screaming popes." At a time when many lost faith in painting, Bacon maintained his belief in the importance of the medium, saying of his own working that his own pictures "deserve either the National Gallery or the dustbin, with nothing in between."
Francis Bacon Photo

Born in Dublin, Francis Bacon was named after his famous ancestor, the English philosopher and scientist. His father, Edward, served in the army and later took a job in the War Office during World War I. In an interview with critic David Sylvester, Bacon attributed the connotations of violence in his paintings to the turbulent circumstances of his early life. A British regiment was stationed near his childhood home, and he remembered constantly hearing soldiers practicing maneuvers. Naturally, his father's position in the War Office alerted him to the threat of violence at an early age. Returning to Dublin after the war, he came of age amidst the early campaigns of the Irish nationalist movement.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Francis Bacon
Interactive chart with Francis Bacon's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Artists

Diego VelazquezDiego Velazquez
Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Eadweard MuybridgeEadweard Muybridge
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso

Personal Contacts

John DeakinJohn Deakin
George DyerGeorge Dyer
John EdwardsJohn Edwards

Movements

CubismCubism
ExpressionismExpressionism
SurrealismSurrealism
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Years Worked: 1970 - 1992
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Lucian FreudLucian Freud
Damien HirstDamien Hirst
Julian SchnabelJulian Schnabel

Personal Contacts

Michael PeppiattMichael Peppiatt
David SylvesterDavid Sylvester

Movements

Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 01 Dec 2010. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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