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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.

Timothy Behrens, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, andMichael Andrews (left to right) at Wheeler's restaurant in Soho,London, 1963. Photo: © John Deakin/John Deakin Archive/BridgemanImages

Frank Auerbach: Artist Friends

In this candid interview with Richard Calvocoressi, the painter Frank Auerbach reminisces on his friendships with Michael Andrews, Francis Bacon, and Lucian Freud. The two spoke during the planning of the exhibition Friends and Relations, a show that examines the interconnected lives and art practices of this group of London painters.

Anna Weyant’s Two Eileens (2022) on the cover of Gagosian Quarterly, Winter 2022

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2022

The Winter 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Anna Weyant’s Two Eileens (2022) on its cover.

Black and white image of Bruce Bernard, Lucian Freud Standing on His Head, with Daughter Bella, 1983

Bruce Bernard: Portraits Of Friends

Virginia Verran details the photographer’s friendships with the London painters.

Image of Francis Bacon's ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ painting, c. 1946

Francis Bacon: The First Pope

Richard Calvocoressi tells the story of Francis Bacon’s first image of the pope, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’, c. 1946.

Takashi Murakami cover and Andreas Gursky cover for Gagosian Quarterly, Summer 2022 magazine

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2022

The Summer 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, with two different covers—featuring Takashi Murakami’s 108 Bonnō MURAKAMI.FLOWERS (2022) and Andreas Gursky’s V & R II (2022).

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

The Art of Biography: Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, coauthors of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Willem de Kooning, speak with Michael Cary about the research and revelations that went into their biography of Francis Bacon.

Gerhard Richter’s Helen (1963) on the cover of Gagosian Quarterly, Spring 2021

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2021

The Spring 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Gerhard Richter’s Helen (1963) on its cover.

Francis Bacon: Couplings video still.

Francis Bacon: Couplings

Richard Calvocoressi provides an in-depth view of the exhibition Francis Bacon: Couplings at Gagosian, London, examining a theme that preoccupied the artist throughout his career: the relationship between two people, both physical and psychological.

Still from video Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt

Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt

Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.

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 join the online eventvisit 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

Installation view, Jubiläumsausstellung—Special Guest Duane Hanson, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland, October 30, 2022–January 8, 2023. Artwork, front to back: © 2022 Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

On View

Jubiläumsausstellung—Special Guest Duane Hanson

Through January 8, 2023
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland
www.fondationbeyeler.ch

This exhibition, whose title translates to Anniversary Exhibition—Special Guest Duane Hanson, features more than one hundred works from the foundation’s collection, from modern to contemporary art, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the institution. Several hyperrealist sculptures by Duane Hanson enrich the presentation, opening up surprising perspectives on the exhibited artworks, architecture, staff, and visitors. Work by Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Alberto Giacometti, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Whiteread is included.

Installation view, Jubiläumsausstellung—Special Guest Duane Hanson, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland, October 30, 2022–January 8, 2023. Artwork, front to back: © 2022 Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, 1967, installation view, Seattle Art Museum © The Estate of Francis Bacon. Photo: Jueqian Fang

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Frisson
The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection

October 15, 2021–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, installation view, Seattle Art Museum © The Estate of Francis Bacon. Photo: Jueqian Fang

Installation view, Francis Bacon: Man and Beast, Royal Academy of Arts, London, January 29–April 17, 2022. Artwork © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022. Photo: © Royal Academy of Arts, London/David Parry

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Francis Bacon
Man and Beast

January 29–April 17, 2022
Royal Academy of Arts, London
www.royalacademy.org.uk

In Francis Bacon’s visceral paintings the boundary between human and animal is constantly blurred, reminding us that our primal instincts lie just below the surface. Focusing on the artist’s fascination with animals, the exhibition explores how this interest both shaped his approach to the human body and distorted it; how, caught at the most extreme moments of existence, his figures are barely recognizable as either human or beast. Spanning Bacon’s fifty-year career, highlights include some of his earliest works and his last-ever painting, presented in the exhibition alongside a trio of bullfight paintings that will be shown together for the first time. These raw expressions of anxiety and instinct—both animal and human—feel poignantly relevant today.

Installation view, Francis Bacon: Man and Beast, Royal Academy of Arts, London, January 29–April 17, 2022. Artwork © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022. Photo: © Royal Academy of Arts, London/David Parry

Installation view, Au rendez-vous des amis: Modernism in Dialogue with Contemporary Art from the Sammlung Goetz, Part 2, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, August 8, 2021–January 16, 2022. Artwork, left to right: © Stand Douglas, © Tatiana Trouvé, © Egon Schiele. Photo: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Haydar Koyupinar

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Au rendez-vous des amis
Modernism in Dialogue with Contemporary Art from the Sammlung Goetz, Part 2

August 6, 2021–January 16, 2022
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
www.pinakothek-der-moderne.de

This exhibition, which includes more than two hundred works, presents works from the Sammlung Goetz in the Pinakothek der Moderne in order to explore the diverse relationships between classical modernism and contemporary art, examining how avant-garde artists paved the way for a more liberal treatment of color, line, and perspective, and outlined groundbreaking ideas for a new social community. Work by Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, and Tatiana Trouvé is included.

Installation view, Au rendez-vous des amis: Modernism in Dialogue with Contemporary Art from the Sammlung Goetz, Part 2, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, August 8, 2021–January 16, 2022. Artwork, left to right: © Stand Douglas, © Tatiana Trouvé, © Egon Schiele. Photo: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Haydar Koyupinar

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