Daniel Farson: The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon

My 2014 drawing of Francis Bacon, used as a mock-up for the cover of what’s regarded as the best biography of the man. He was an interesting figure, a mass of contradictions and his body of work was one of those, like Joyce or Merzbow or Picasso, that someone had to do, just to get it out there and out of the way so the culture could move on. I liked his work when I was younger, but over time it’s lost its appeal to me. The key 1940’s works that were so shocking at the time have now been fully assimilated into the monoculture, after which what becomes most interesting is trying to find out whatever it was that compelled the man, with no formal art training, to start daubing in his mid-30’s. Does this book answer that questions? I don’t think any Bacon biography really does. Then again, it was Bacon himself who said that art’s job was to “deepen the mystery.”

Francis Bacon – South Bank Show (1985)


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