FRANCIS BACON British, 1909-1992
Francis Bacon was a dominant figure of postwar art, and his canvases remain unmistakable for their contorted emotion and visceral physicality. “I would like my pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail leaving its trail of the human presence... as a snail leaves its slime,” he once said. Among his signature motifs were screaming and disfigured heads, grappling homosexual lovers, and flanks of meat, and his style is characterized by its flat backgrounds and sense of motion, derived from the frequent use of photography and film stills as sources for portraiture. Mostly self-taught, Bacon nonetheless drew influence from an impossibly wide range of artists, from Vincent van Gogh, Eadweard Muybridge, and filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, to Rembrandt, Masaccio, Titian, and especially Diego Velázquez, making explicit visual references to many of their works in his paintings. His lasting influence can be seen in particular among Young British Artists such as Darren Coffield, Jenny Saville, and Jake and Dinos Chapman.