English painter of Irish birth. Francis Bacon came to London in 1925 and although he received no formal art training, he created a sensation in 1945 when he exhibited his Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (London, Tate Gallery) at the Lefevre Gallery in London. His work was Expressionist in style, and his distorted human forms were unsettling. He developed his personal style and gloomy subject matter during the 1950s, when he achieved an international reputation. Aside from his unpleasant images of corrupt and disgusting humanity, Bacon deliberately subverted artistic conventions by using the triptych format of Renaissance altarpieces to show the evils of man, rather than the virtues of Christ. In Pope Innocent X he reworked a famous portrait by Velazquez into a screaming mask of angst.
Bacon’s pictures are in many ways disturbing; primarily a figure or portrait artist, they show distorted people and faces, seemingly screaming out in pain. Uncomfortable to behold, they lay bare the inner core of a frightened and angry humanity. Expressionistic and at times surreal, Bacon’s paintings are bold and unforgiving interpretations of the human condition.
As well as canvases, about forty etchings that were made under Bacon’s direction exist.
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