British artist Francis Bacon is best-known for his haunting depictions of disembodied portraits, mangled, animal carcasses, screaming figures, crucifixions, and popes. His style blends beauty and decay, seduction and repulsion, to both draw in the viewer and upset their normative perceptions at the same time. Bacon’s work is heralded for his successful use of figuration to communicate the deepest, darkest human emotions and desires.

BEGINNINGS

Bacon was an Irish-born British figurative painter who first moved to London in 1926 and later settled into his studio in South Kensington, which has since been transported in its entirety to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. His studio was cluttered with endless piles of books, paints, empty bottles, and other detritus while the splotches of paint on the walls were reminiscent of a paint palette. The chaos of his studio is perhaps reflective of the artist himself, a reckless gambler and drinker who had an uneasy beginning. Bacon was exiled by his father at a young age for being homosexual. Throughout his career, Bacon was a ruthless self-critic, a habit that began following his first solo exhibition in the basement of a friend’s house. After receiving an overwhelmingly negative response, Bacon destroyed all of his exhibited works.

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