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Francis Bacon

About

Francis Bacon was born in 1909 in Dublin and died in 1992 in Madrid. Bacon, one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century, remained devoted to figuration and portraiture throughout his career. In his art, modernity and tradition converge. His ectoplasmic figures and faces strain like savage forces of nature against shallow fields of intense color and the sketchy armatures that bind them back to the picture plane. In his gut-wrenching serialization of the human body and its sensations, he showed himself to be the unflinching witness of the hysterical reality of the body and the primal fear of those who inhabit it. Although Bacon's aggressive deformations suggest an intense level of existential alienation, he was actually intimately connected to most of his sitters, among them his lover George Dyer, Henrietta Moraes, who owned the Colony Club, Bacon's favorite drinking spot, and Isabel Rawsthorne, the renowned artist's muse. He often painted his subjects at a remove, from photographs, although the resulting portraits are far from being objective or idealized images. Lisa Sainsbury, a close friend and patron, sat for him every week for two years while he made a concerted effort to work directly from life. Of the eight portraits of her that Bacon completed, he destroyed several and Head of a Woman (Lisa Sainsbury) (1955–57) is one of only three remaining.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Francis Bacon in his studio in Battersea, London, 1960. Photo: © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

In Conversation

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
with Sebastian Smee

Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 6:30pm EDT

Authors Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan will discuss their new book, Francis Bacon: Revelations, with Washington Post art critic Sebastian Smee in a conversation presented by the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture. A decade in the making, the book offers the first comprehensive look at the life and art of Francis Bacon, who produced indelible images of humankind and played an outsized role in both twentieth-century art and life. Bacon was a witty free spirit and unabashed homosexual at a time when many others remained closeted, and his exploits were as unforgettable as his paintings. Revelations offers a more complete, nuanced, and international portrait than ever before of this singularly private, darkly funny, eruptive man and his equally extraordinary art. To join the online event, register at zoom.us.

Francis Bacon in his studio in Battersea, London, 1960. Photo: © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Francis Bacon: Revelations (New York: Knopf Publishing Group, 2021)

In Conversation

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
with Michael Cary

Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 6pm EDT

Authors Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan will discuss their new book, Francis Bacon: Revelations, with Gagosian director Michael Cary in a conversation presented by 192 Books and Paula Cooper Gallery. A decade in the making, the book offers the first comprehensive look at the life and art of Francis Bacon, who produced indelible images of humankind and played an outsized role in both twentieth-century art and life. Bacon was a witty free spirit and unabashed homosexual at a time when many others remained closeted, and his exploits were as unforgettable as his paintings. Revelations offers a more complete, nuanced, and international portrait than ever before of this singularly private, darkly funny, eruptive man and his equally extraordinary art. To watch the live event, visit paulacoopergallery-studio.com.

Francis Bacon: Revelations (New York: Knopf Publishing Group, 2021)

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now (London: Gagosian, 2020)

Book Launch

Visions of the Self
Rembrandt and Now

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 6:30–8:30pm
Kenwood House, London
www.english-heritage.org.uk

In the interest of public health, this event has been postponed until further notice.

Gagosian is pleased to host a drinks reception to celebrate the release of Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, published on the occasion of the recent eponymous exhibition at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Organized in partnership with English Heritage, the exhibition places Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665) in dialogue with self-portraits by Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lucian Freud, and Pablo Picasso, as well as leading contemporary artists such as Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, Urs Fischer, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Giuseppe Penone, Richard Prince, Jenny Saville, Cindy Sherman, and Rudolf Stingel, among others. The catalogue includes an introduction by Wendy Monkhouse, senior curator at English Heritage, and a text by art historian David Freedberg. To attend the free event, RSVP to londonevents@gagosian.com. Space is limited.

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now (London: Gagosian, 2020)

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Museum Exhibitions

Ewa Juszkiewicz, Untitled (After Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun), 2020 © Ewa Juszkiewicz

On View

Face à Arcimboldo

Through November 22, 2021
Centre Pompidou-Metz, France
www.centrepompidou-metz.fr

This exhibition, whose title translates to Arcimboldo Face to Face, invites visitors to explore the timeless vocabulary of the sixteenth-century painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo (c. 1527–1593). The show demonstrates how his work has influenced art history for more than four centuries through the work of 130 artists, including work by Francis Bacon, Glenn Brown, Alex Israel, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and Ed Ruscha.

Ewa Juszkiewicz, Untitled (After Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun), 2020 © Ewa Juszkiewicz

Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, 1967, Seattle Art Museum © The Estate of Francis Bacon. Photo: Spike Mafford

On View

Frisson
The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection

Through November 27, 2022
Seattle Art Museum
www.seattleartmuseum.org

This exhibition celebrates the Friday Foundation’s gift of nineteen artworks from the Lang Collection to the Seattle Art Museum in honor of Seattle collectors Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis. Dating from 1945 to 1976, the paintings, drawings, and sculptures in Frisson represent mature works and pivotal moments of artistic development from some of the most influential American and European artists of the postwar period. Work by Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, and Alberto Giacometti is included.  

Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, 1967, Seattle Art Museum © The Estate of Francis Bacon. Photo: Spike Mafford

Installation view, The Human Body, Hill Art Foundation, New York, April 29–June 26, 2021. Artwork, left to right: © Jenny Saville, © Richard Prince, © Ron Mueck, Anthony van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens. Photo: Matthew Herrmann

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The Human Body

April 29–June 26, 2021
Hill Art Foundation, New York
hillartfoundation.org

This exhibition, curated from the Hill Collection by Karel Schampers, examines the human body through figurative work from the last five hundred years. The installation spans two floors and visitors are encouraged to view the works from different levels and vantage points, creating a dialogue across diverse periods and mediums. The foundation’s collection of Renaissance bronzes  is featured alongside works by artists such as Francis Bacon, Richard Prince, Jenny Saville, Rudolf Stingel, and Andy Warhol.

Installation view, The Human Body, Hill Art Foundation, New York, April 29–June 26, 2021. Artwork, left to right: © Jenny Saville, © Richard Prince, © Ron Mueck, Anthony van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens. Photo: Matthew Herrmann

Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait, 1981 © The Estate of Francis Bacon/All rights reserved/ADAGP, Paris/DACS, London 2020/ARS, New York 

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Francis Bacon
Late Paintings

February 23–May 25, 2020
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
www.mfah.org

This exhibition presents more than forty paintings from Francis Bacon’s 1971 Grand Palais retrospective alongside his last works, made in 1992. The show, which traveled from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, aims to explore the unprecedented influence of literature on his work. Significant new loans have been added to the Houston presentation.

Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait, 1981 © The Estate of Francis Bacon/All rights reserved/ADAGP, Paris/DACS, London 2020/ARS, New York 

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