To continue our series on British artists confirming the doubts of Aritro Das that there is indeed formidable talent from Britain,we now dwell briefly on the life and times of artist Francis Bacon. This Irish-English artist was born in Dublin and led a rather unconventional controversial life,thanks to his penchant to cross-dress at a young age.
Initially,it was his frail health and later his sexuality that created a distance between Francis and his father Eddy. A young drifter in his teens,Francis was pushed to thieving and sex-work as his father disowned him and parted with very little money for his upkeep.
It was only in the 1930s that the young Bacon found some independence as he apprenticed as an interior decorator. He already had a love for art and was inspired by the works of painter Nicolas Poussin and filmmaker Fritz Lang.
Bacons first exhibition as a designer (1929) saw him exhibiting rugs and painted screens and fame came when Bacons Queensberry Mews studio was featured in the August 1930 issue of The Studio magazine.
Bacons work as a designer required him to create beautiful and pleasing pieces,however,his art,which began with a series of portraits,celebrated the grotesque. Young boys with diseased skin and bodies flayed and quartered,hanging carcasses and Modern cubistic interpretations of the crucifixion.
Douglas Cooper a curator in the 1930s arranged for one of Bacons paintings to be showcased at the Mayor Gallery in Cork Street,the Women in Sunlight,was then followed by a publication of the artists Crucifixion in art critic Hurbert Reads book Art Now. In 1934,Bacon held his first solo show,Paintings by Francis Bacon,and except for works that were bought by his cousin,Bacon destroyed all the 11 paintings that were on display. Bacon later regretted destroying Wound for a Crucifixion.
Following this,many of Bacon’s works were lost or destroyed and he faced rejection from critics like Ronald Penrose.
During World War II,Bacon was deemed unfit to fight because of his asthma and retired to a little cottage with his companion Eric Hall. It was there that he painted Man Getting Out of a Car that was a controversial work that was meant to depict Adolf Hitler. Bacon has been recorded saying he just copied the car and nothing else.
Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944) has been sited as his magnum opus and signals the arrival of the biomorphic form (that was neither man nor animal) for which Bacon is famously known. Right up till the 1950s,Bacon was part of major exhibitions and got some of the fame denied to him earlier. His preference for cramped studios did not change and he died in 64 of a heart attack,leaving all his wealth to his partner John Edwards.
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