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Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon (1909–1992) Irish-born painter and print maker, known for his idiosyncratic approach to the human figure. 

Born in Dublin in 1909, Bacon was raised between Ireland and England, moving frequently between the two.  In 1926 following a family dispute sparked by his homosexuality, Bacon moved to London permanently. Living off a small allowance and doing odd jobs to stay afloat, he spent a lot of his free time in galleries, citing the immersion in the London art scene and the Parisian underworld as huge inspirations for his later work.

Crucifixion was Bacon’s first painting to attract public attention, however it was not particularly well received in 1933, and disillusioned in the wake of this, Bacon abandoned painting for almost a decade. However in 1937 his work was exhibited in a group show Young British Painters at Thomas Agnew in London. It was not until 1944 that Bacon began to experience some consistent success with Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion causing a sensation when exhibited in 1945 - a watershed moment for Bacon as he became a major player on the post-war art scene.

Painting (1946) was shown in several group shows and sold at the Hanover Gallery in 1948 to MoMA whilst in the following year Bacon exhibited his Heads series to huge acclaim. In 1958, Marlborough Fine Art Gallery became Bacon’s sole dealer (until 1992) and during this period, Bacon’s work evolved from the extreme subject matter of his early paintings to portraiture, notably of close friends Michel Leiris, Dyer and Lawrence Gowing. In October 1971, a major retrospective of Bacon’s work was held at the Grand Palais; the apogee of Bacon’s career, when he was termed ‘the greatest living painter’.

Bacon’s work can be found, amongst other collections, at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, the Musée d’Art Moderne, Brussels, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Tate Britain, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, MoMa, New York, the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, D.C. and the Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

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