Francis Bacon - Biography
Francis Bacon, was an Anglo-Irish painter. He was born on October 28, 1909 and died on April 18, 1992. His figurative work is renowned for its boldness and barrenness that contained an unfiltered visceral intensity. Isolated, abstract figure frequently appear in distinct and desolate landscapes in Francis Bacon’s paintings. Although Francis Bacon began painting in his early twenties, his career as a painter was stalled since he could not find a subject that truly interested him. In 1944, Francis Bacon showed his seminal Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. Francis Bacon gained the reputation for being an observer of the darker aspects of humanity. The darkness inherent in Francis Bacon’s work, many observers say that Francis Bacon seemed quite joyful in his personal life. He was associated with Muriel Belcher, John Deakin, Daniel Farson, Lucian Freud, Patrick Swift, and Henrietta Moreas. Many of Francis Bacon’s detractors included politicians like Margaret Thatcher who described Bacon as “that man who paints those dreadful pictures.” Despite the like of political support, Francis Bacon has been the subject of three Tate retrospectives.
Two visual motifs that Francis Bacon returned to frequently were The Crucifixion and The Scream. In the works of Francis Bacon, The Crucifixion could be any space in which a body could be injured and in which other figures can witness. This theme could be used to open the various potential meanings. In this motif, Francis Bacon was originally influenced by Pablo Picasso, Diego Velazquez, Matthias Grunewald, and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. The other motif that Francis Bacon returned to was that of The Scream. Francis Bacon became obsessed with this theme. He drew inspiration from a still from an injured woman on the Odessa steps in the Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstein and medical text books.
On October 28, 1909, Francis Bacon was born in Dublin, Ireland. His parents Captain Anthony Edward Mortimer Bacon and Christina Winifred Firth were of British extraction. His father had fought in the Boer War. Some have suggested that his father was a descendent of the philosopher Sir Francis Bacon’s older half-brother. His mother came from a Sheffeild family that had made its money in steel and coal. The Bacon’s had five children who were raised by a nanny.
His father would eventually push Francis Bacon away from his family. During this period, Francis Bacon tried working in domestic service. However, he grew bored and irritated with the work and his employers. While Francis Bacon was a young man, he realized that he was attracted to rich men of a certain type. These men helped supplement his desire for the finer things in life. One of Francis Bacon early lovers was Harcourt-Smith who had served with in the military with Francis Bacon’s father. Francis Bacon would later came that his father had instructed Harcourt-Smith to initiate Francis Bacon into manhood. In 1927, Francis Bacon was taken to Berlin in the Weimar Republic. This experience opened the young artist to a world of decadence and opulence.
Following this trip, Francis Bacon would travel to Paris where he would stay for the next eighteen months. He lived with Yvonne Bocquentin, a pianist and art afficianado, and her family. Francis Bacon made a point of learning French during this period. Francis Bacon visited Parisian art galleries. At the Musee Conde, Francis Bacon saw Massacre of the Innocents by Nicolas Poussin. Francis Bacon would use this work as an inspiration in his later work.
At the end of 1928 or the beginning of 1929, Francis Bacon moved to London. Francis Bacon became the roommate of his former nanny and Eric Alden, who would later be the first person to collect Bacon’s work. Francis Bacon took work as an interior designer during this period. Francis Bacon also sought work as a gentleman’s companion.
Francis Bacon made the acquaintance of Eric Hall. Eric Hall became the young artist’s lover and patron. During 1929, Francis Bacon showed his first work, which included both works of interior design and painting. The early paintings seemed to be related to the designs of his rugs. In 1930, Francis Bacon was featured in the The Studio. This was also the year that he returned to Germany. While traveling, Helmar Lerski, a Swiss photographer, took Francis Bacon’s portrait. Francis Bacon continued making connections in the artistic community. He participated in a second show in the fall of that year.
Francis Bacon probably shared studio space with the Australian painter Ray de Maistre during this period. Gladys MacDermot commissioned Francis Bacon to redecorate and redesign her furniture in 1932. Three years later, Francis Bacon returned to Paris. While on this trip, Francis Bacon acquired a used book about disease of the mouth. The colored plates would have a stark impact on his work. In 1935, Francis Bacon also saw Battleship Potemkin, another visual influence on his work.
Between 1935 and 1936, the curators for the International Surrealist Exhibition rejected Francis Bacon’s paintings as being backwards-looking. He was told that a lot had happened since the Impressionists were in vogue. In 1937, Francis Bacon joined Roy de Maistre, Eric Hall, Graham Sutherland, and Victor Pasmore participated in the Young British Painters show.
In 1940, Francis Bacon’s father died. Francis Bacon was became the executor of the will.
During World War II, Francis Bacon was deemed unfit for active duty. Still interested in serving his country, Francis Bacon joined the Air Raid Precautions rescue service. The particulates from the bombing inflamed Francis Bacon’s asthma. Francis Bacon and his friend Hall began hosting underground roulette parties. These were financially successful to both men. Francis Bacon continued to exhibit in-group shows.
In 1946, Francis Bacon had shown work at the Musee National d’Art Moderne to Paris. With the increasing sales of his work, Francis Bacon relocated to Monte Carlo from London. He would make frequent short trips to London. During the post-war period, Francis Bacon was exposed to Existential philosophies. In 1948, Francis Bacon returned to London. By this time, Francis Bacon had acquired the reputation for being one of the most influential artists of his time.
In 1948, Francis Bacon joined a private club. He was offered £10 a week, and free drinks if he brought his patrons to the bar. He frequented this establishment frequently. In 1950, Francis Bacon made the acquaintance of David Sylvester who had written about Francis Bacon’s work. Sylvester had mistakenly called Francis Bacon’s work as Expressionism. This was also the year that Francis Bacon and Eric Hall ended their relationship. Francis Bacon traveled to South Africa and Egypt.
In need of money, Francis Bacon took a position at the Royal College as a tutor of painting. Francis Bacon accepted this job on the condition that he was not required to teach in a formally capacity.
In 1964, George Dyer broke into Francis Bacon’s residence. Francis Bacon began a relationship with the young petty criminal. This was the first relationship Francis Bacon had been with a younger man. Bacon felt a connection to George Dyer’s vulnerability and trust. Both men were alcoholics who were concerned with their physical appearance. Their relationship devolved and by 1970, Francis Bacon was only supporting Dyer’s compulsive drinking. George Dyer was a frequent subject of Francis Bacon’s work. In 1971, the Grand Palais opened a retrospective for Francis Bacon. George Dyer accompanied Francis Bacon to Paris. In the middle of the reception it was announced that Dyer had overdosed on barbiturates. Despite their failing relationship, the loss of Dyer had a profound effect on Francis Bacon. Three years later, Francis Bacon began a relationship with another young man, John Edwards.
On April 18, 1992, Francis Bacon died of cardiac arrest that was a complication of his asthma. His entire estate had been left to John Edwards.