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Francis Bacon

Bacon, Francis, 1910–92, English painter, b. Dublin. A self-taught artist, Bacon rejected abstraction in painting to explore a repertoire of strange, fractured, and often bizarre figurative images, many replete with homosexual, sadomasochistic, and fetishistic undertones. He became the center of a storm of controversy with his breakthrough painting Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944; Tate Gall., London), which portrayed carcasslike figures on crosses. He painted a series of variations on figural themes, e.g., Van Gogh Goes to Work, Velázquez's Innocent X. Often large in scale, Bacon's works, which frequently use photographs or printed materials as sources for their imagery, focus on shockingly grotesque and brutally satiric themes. From the 1950s—the era of his famously grim screaming popes—onward his images became increasingly distorted and abstract, sometimes merging human and animal forms.

See biographies by J. Russell (1979), A. Sinclair (1993), and M. Peppiatt (rev. ed. 2009); M. Peppiatt, Francis Bacon: Studies for a Portrait: Essays and Interviews (2008); Francis Bacon: A Retrospective (1999); D. Sylvester, Interviews with Francis Bacon (1975, repr. 1988), Francis Bacon: In Conversation with Michel Archimbaud (1993); studies by E. van Alphen (1993), W. Schmied (1996, tr. 2006), D. Sylvester (2000), G. Deleuze (2004), M. Harrison (2005), M. Peppiatt (2006), and R. Chiappini (2008); exhibition catalogs from Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. (1989) and Tate Museum, London, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, ed. by M. Gale and C. Stephens (2008).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: European Art, 1600 to the Present: Biographies

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