Ongoing Exhibition Showcases Masterpieces of Francis Bacon

29 September 2016

Astonishing Francis Bacon Exhibit at the Guggenheim Bilbao displays the beloved artist’s norm-challenging paintings together with the paintings of his Spanish masters

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao exhibits some of the most important paintings by the British art master, Francis Bacon. Curated by Martin Harrison, Francis Bacon Exhibit – From Picasso to Velazquez – is on view September 30 through January 8, 2017.

Francis Bacon Exhibit deals with not only Bacon’s artful work, but also the impact of other artists on his world of creativity.

Bacon was known to be a devoted Francophile; which means he truly admired French painters like Degas, Manet, and Gauguin. However, Bacon was also fond of the artwork of classical Spanish masters such as Diego Velazquez.

With this in mind, Francis Bacon Exhibit at Guggenheim, presents some of the works of Bacon’s masters as well. That is to say, the French and Spanish artists who played a major role in Bacon’s career.

Francis Bacon Exhibit
Francis Bacon, Study after Velazquez, 1950 | Image source: artsy.net

Francis Bacon’s first inspirations were actually from Picasso’s biomorphic Cubism, and also Analytical and Synthetic Cubism.

Francis Bacon Exhibit
Pablo Picasso, Composition (Figure féminine sur un plage), 1927 | Image source: artsy.net

Moreover, Bacon was widely obsessed with Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X , 1650.

Francis Bacon Exhibit - Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X
Francis Bacon’s Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X 1953 (left), Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X 1650 (right)

Deformed Shapes, Writhing Bodies, and Monstrous Creatures

Bacon’s paintings focused on the human figure. It expressed the human shape in a deformed and isolated way. His nudes were uniquely atypical and boasted individual figures in tortured and misshaped postures. In other words, he maximized the delivery of his paintings by twisting poses and deforming features.

Francis Bacon Exhibit - Study for self
Francis Bacon, Study for self 1976 | Image source: news.artnet

The 1944 triptych – Three Studies – was a turning point in Bacon’s career. It actually made him one of the leading painters after the Second World War. Each of the three paintings shows a twisting human-like creature against an orange background.

Francis Bacon Exhibit - Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion
One of the three paintings of ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’ by Francis Bacon, 1944 | Image source: tate.org

Bacon’s works of the mid fifties are mostly creepy. To put it another way, they imply a sense of fright by depicting the brutality of life. His creatures took on sinister attributes as well as geometric distortions that evoked the shape of animals. This was probably to depict the animal aspects of human life.

Francis Bacon Exhibit - chimpanzee
Francis Bacon, Study for Chimpanzee 1957 | Image source: guggenheim.org
Francis Bacon Exhibit - Study of a Bull
Francis Bacon, Study of a Bull, 1991 | Image source: artsy.net

The exhibition displays almost 80 pieces of Bacon’s work including some of his yet least exhibited paintings. As mentioned before, the Francis Bacon Exhibit particularly aims at studying the links between his work and his masters’. In other words, Francis Bacon fans can revel in seeing his paintings, next to those by the painters that preceded him.

If you liked this article, consider seeing Ten Most Famous Paintings in the World as well.