British Artists – Francis Bacon
by Andrew Brighton
The British Artist Series books are affordable and accessible introductions by leading authorities to some of the greatest figures in British art. This time the focus is on one of my eternal favourites:
When 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion' was exhibited in 1945 Francis Bacon (1909–1992) instantly became the most controversial painter in the country. By the end of his life his status as one of the giants of modern art was established: In essence, Bacon’s works arrive straight through the nervous system and hijack the soul with the raw brutality of pain being overpowering.
Having published studies of Picasso, Ana Pacheco and David Hockney’s early prints, the writer, editor, curator and lecturer Andrew Brighton casts fresh light on Bacon’s formation as an artist in gay and aristocratic bohemian London circles.
He locates Bacon at the core of contesting ideas and values, while firmly grounding his reading of Bacon's work in an understanding of his working methods and technique.
Penetrating the seeming horror of Bacon's painting, this book reveals the ideas, the beliefs and the life that formed one of the most successful artists of the twentieth century.
Bacon is widely known for his giant canvasses spilling out nightmarish visions and contorted bodies in their raw and fleshy glory.
Arranged broadly chronologically, it brings together the most important paintings from the artist's turbulent life, including his portraits of Pope Innocent X and celebrated triptychs such as Three Studies for a Crucifixion.
A book that elucidates the values and meanings that can be ascribed to Bacon's work, discusses criticisms of Bacon by distinguished critics and philosophers and serves both as a great introduction and companion for connoisseurs into the monumental legacy of what has rightly become an icon of British culture and the underlying manifold reasons for his fame and timeless relevance.
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