Francis Bacon displayed a totally original artistic voice in his paintings; while they were sometimes shocking, they always contained a heroic grandeur. Born in Ireland, Francis Bacon came to London in 1925. In 1945 he made a sensation when he exhibited his Visiting Christ at the bottom of the Crusifix, now in London’s Tate Gallery. His work was Expressionist in style, and his distorted human forms were unsettling. He developed his personal style and gloomy subject matter during the 1950s, when he achieved an international reputation.
Aside from his unpleasant images of corrupt and disgusting humanity, Bacon deliberately subverted artistic conventions by using the triptych format of Renaissance altarpieces to show the evils of man, rather than the virtues of Christ. In Pope Innocent X he reworked a famous portrait by Velazquez into a screaming mask of angst.
Bacon’s pictures are in many ways disturbing; primarily a figure or portrait artist, they show distorted people and faces, seemingly screaming out in pain. Uncomfortable to behold, they lay bare the inner core of a frightened and angry humanity. Expressionistic and at times surreal, Bacon’s paintings are bold and unforgiving interpretations of the human condition As well as canvases, about forty etchings that were made under Bacon’s direction exist.