â€śI like, you may say, the glitter and color that comes from the mouth, and I’ve always hoped in a sense to be able to paint the mouth like [Claude] Monet painted a sunset.â€ť â€“Francis Bacon
Postwar Irish painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) is infamous for his detailed depictions of figuresâ€™ mouths, often wide open and screaming.
But, his colorful shrieks are more than imaginative. Bacon was an ample researcher, and some pretty gruesome real life images are hidden in his artworks.
Baconâ€™s oral fascination grew when he moved from Ireland to Chantilly, France at age 17.
In the MusĂ©e CondĂ©, he encountered his earliest art influence: The Massacre of the Innocents by Nicolas Poussin. He called it â€śprobably the best human cry ever painted.â€ť
Popular culture also permeated Baconâ€™s obsession with a trip to the art movie house.
The film â€śBattleship Potemkinâ€ť was a self-proclaimed â€ścatalystâ€ť for his artwork and the cry of an Odessa nurse would be direct inspiration later in his career.
Finally, he scoured the libraries of Paris for a scientific authority.
In Atlas-Manuel des maladies de la bouche, a French translation of an 1894 German medical textbook, Bacon found his ultimate source material: hand-colored plates of various mouth diseases in all their sore-filled, slobbery glory.
These diseased and distorted oral images would shape the creative canon of this existentialist artist for the next six decades.
â€śThey always interested me,â€ť he said, â€śAnd the colors were beautiful.â€ť
Learn more about Baconâ€™s life and career here: https://www.theartstory.org/artist-bacon-francis.htm
Julian Bell wrote extensively about Baconâ€™s scientific source material in this 2007 article for the New York Review of Books: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2007/may/10/the-cunning-of-francis-bacon/