(born 1909 - died: 1992)
Francis Bacon was born October 28, 1909, in Dublin. At the age of 16, he
moved to London and subsequently lived for about two years in Berlin and Paris.
Although Bacon never attended art school, he began to draw and work in
watercolor. Upon his return to London in 1929, he established himself as a
furniture designer and interior designer. In the fall of that year he began to use
oils and exhibited a few paintings as well as furniture and rugs in his studio. His
work was included in a group exhibition in London at the Mayor Gallery in 1933.
In 1934, the artist organized his own first solo show at Sunderland House,
London, which he called Transition Gallery for the occasion. He participated in a
group show at Thomas Agnew and Sons, London in 1937.
Bacon painted relatively little after his solo show in 1934 and in the 1930's and
early 1940's destroyed many of his works. He began to paint intensively again in
1944. Pablo Picasso's work decisively influenced his painting until the mid
1940's. From the mid 1940's to the 50's, Bacon's work reflected the influence of
In the 50's, Bacon drew on such sources as Velazquez's Portrait of Pope
Innocent X and Vincent Van Gogh's The Painter on the Road to Tarascon.
Bacon soon developed his distinctive style as a figure painter. In his mature
style, developed in the 1950's, the paintings include images of either friends or
lovers, or images of people found in movie stills, reproductions of historic
paintings and medical photos. His people scream in physical and psychic pain,
seemingly tortured in bedrooms, bathrooms and cages. His work was always
expressionist in style with distorted human and animal forms, potent images of
corrupt and disgusting humanity.
Bacon's dramatic and riveting work gained international recognition and acclaim.
His first major show took place at the Hanover Gallery, London, in 1949. His first
solo exhibition outside England was held in 1953 at Durlacher Brothers, New
York. His first retrospective was held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts,
In 1962, the Tate Gallery, London, organized a Bacon retrospective, a modified
version of which traveled to Mannheim, Turin, Zurich, and Amsterdam.
Other important exhibitions of his work were held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum, New York, in 1963 and the Grand Palais in Paris in 1971; paintings
from 1968 to 1974 were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
in 1975. Retrospectives of his work were held at the Hirshhorn Museum and
Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, and
the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1989-1990 and at the Musee National
d'Art Moderne, Paris, in 1996.
The artist died April 28, 1992, in Madrid.