|From the 1940s to his death the Irish-born British figurative painter, Francis Bacon (1909 –1992) worked consistently as a painter, ignoring other passing, fashionable trends in art. Throughout his career, the human figure was the dominant subject in his work: his paintings of men and women go far beyond a simple likeness and instead are portraits of complex psychological states. Nevertheless, when Francis Bacon first emerged to public recognition, in the aftermath of the Second World War, his paintings were greeted with horror.
As an atheist, Bacon sought to express what it was to live in a world without God or afterlife. By setting sensual abandon and physical compulsion against hopelessness and irrationality, he showed the human as simply another animal.
The fourth installment of the Museum’s ongoing series MASTERWORKS I Portland, Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) is considered to be among his finest portraits for its aesthetic resolution and insightful rendering of fellow artist Lucian Freud, the grandson of Sigmund Freud.
Bacon and the younger Freud were introduced to each other by painter Graham Sutherland in 1945, and would become close friends and regular companions in post-war London
First shown in Italy and subsequently in Bacon’s triumphant retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1971-72, the Freud triptych was separated and sold into three different private collections. It disappeared from view for more than 15 years before being reunited by an Italian collector in the 1990s. With this exhibition, this magnificent work reenters public view for a limited time.
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