This summer the Tate Liverpool will host the largest exhibition of Francis Bacon works ever held in the North of England. The works featured (30 paintings alongside a group of rarely seen drawings and documents) in the exhibition, Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms, will be united by a common theme or motif of Bacon’s – that of the ghostly cages that frame many of his subjects.
Irish-born Bacon began using this visceral motif in the 1930s, often within the parameters of a barely visible cubic or elliptic cage around his figures and portraits, to heighten the feeling of isolation, transience and to bring attention to their psychological condition.
Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms will track the development and evolution of this motif through his career indications of room-spaces in early works including Crucifixion 1933 (Murderme) and Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c. 1944 (Tate); the 1950s, including Man in Blue IV 1954 (mumok, Austria) and Chimpanzee 1955 (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart); through to the 1980s, Untitled (Kneeling Figure) c. 1982 (Private Collection).
A period of experimentation on paper in the late 1950s and early 1960s gave way to a greater spatial complexity in the late 1960s, 70s and 80s, where the cubic cages were transformed into theatrical spaces, demonstrated in the 1967 triptych inspired by T.S. Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden).
The exhibition’s theme takes its inspiration from the influential essay by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation 1981, by highlighting the role of Bacon’s approach to space as one of the defining of his work.
The exhibition opens today, 18 May and will run until 18 September 2016.