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Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
Francis Bacon was born in Dublin, Ireland to English parents. He was expelled from his family in 1925 when his homosexuality was discovered. Bacon never attended art school. He began work in watercolor about 192627 and oils in the fall of 1929. Bacon painted relatively little after his solo show in 1934. He was often disdainful of his work destroyed large number of works throughout his lifetime. Representative of Bacon's methods and subjects are the triptych, the scream, and the lone figure against a stark backgroud.
Pope Innocent
Van Gogh


Study for "Portrait of Van Gogh" III, (1957)
Oil and sand on linen
78 1/8 x 56 1/8 in. (198.4 x 142.5 cm.)
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
British painter Francis Bacon attained preeminence among postwar figurative artists by making images that evoke the violence and anguish of modern life. In exquisitely composed canvases depicting crucifixions, screaming popes, or tortured bodies, Bacon transcribed the brutality and isolation of those pushed to the limits of their endurance. He also created intense, expressionistic portraits of friends and historical figures.
Bacon often found inspiration in the work of other artists. "Study for Portrait of Van Gogh III" belongs to a group of eight paintings based on Vincent van Gogh's self-portrait "Painter on the Road to Tarascon" (1888; destroyed in World War II). Bacon became obsessed with a color reproduction, saying that the "haunted figure on the road seemed . . . like a phantom of the road."
Frequently working in series, Bacon occasionally relied on photographic reproductions to develop his imagery. For this painting, he conjured van Gogh's wraithlike figure emerging from the vividly colored, expressionistically distorted landscape. Using sand for added texture, Bacon applied the paint in a rich impasto that lends the painting a vibrant sensuality. Yet the figure's gaunt silhouette and the bare trees in the background contribute to the aura of melancholy that pervades all of the paintings in this unforgettable series. Text adapted from "Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: 150 Works of Art" (1996), entry by Judith Zilczer.
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