Francis Bacon: A Retrospective

Farr, Dennis; Bacon, Francis; Yard, Sally; Peppiatt, Michael; Yale Center for British Art; Martino, Massimo; Trust for Museum Exhibitions

Published by Harry N Abrams Inc, 1999
ISBN 10: 0810940116 / ISBN 13: 9780810940116
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Synopsis: The painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) consistently rejected attempts at categorization and analytical comment on his work, and refused to allow individual discussions of his paintings in exhibition catalogues. In this book, published to accompany a 1999 US exhibition organized by the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, three Bacon scholars aim to shed light on the artist's private life and on his working methods, about which he was particularly secretive. Individual commentaries are provided on each colour plate, and three interviews with Bacon are reprinted in their entirety. The illustrations include a number of late works and numerous documentary photographs.

Review: This book accompanies the traveling retrospective that inaugurated the newly reopened Yale Center for British Art in January 1999. Francis Bacon (1909-1992), the eminent British painter known for his large, colorful, and grotesque paintings of the human body, was very controlling of what was written about his work during his lifetime; this book marks the first time that each painting is individually discussed in print. Included in the book are essays that provide great insight into Bacon's life and personality. Especially revealing is an essay by Michael Peppiatt, Bacon's close friend and biographer (he wrote Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma). Bacon lived a life of heavy drinking, gambling, and socializing, and Peppiatt discusses this lifestyle in relation to the work: "Bacon himself pretended he painted particularly well with a hangover. 'My mind simply crackles with electricity after one of those evenings.'"

Along with beautiful reproductions of the paintings are some photographs of Bacon's studio, which is astounding in its filth. The floor is littered with various detritus; brushes and paint tubes are everywhere. Bacon's intensity is as evident in these studio shots as in the paintings with contorted figures and grimacing, bruise-colored faces. You can practically watch the human body decay in front of your eyes. --Jennifer Cohen

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Francis Bacon: A Retrospective
Publisher: Harry N Abrams Inc
Publication Date: 1999
Edition: NIS.

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Artist) Francis Bacon, Dennis Farr
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