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Bacon, Francis, 1909-1992

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The Macmillan Encyclopedia

He was self-taught and began painting in the 1930s but his characteristic style did not become evident until 1945, when his nightmarish Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion ensured him an undeniable place in modern British art. Another of his well-known paintings is Study after Velázquez (1951), a version of Velázquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X. His paintings are characterized by strong rich colours, a sinister blurring or erasure of human features, and an often violent dramatic quality.

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 abstra...    Continue Reading
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