Indepth Arts News: |
"Francis Bacon: Paintings"
2002-11-04 until 2002-12-07
New York, NY,
USA United States of America
The Directors of Marlborough Gallery are pleased to announce the opening on November 4th of an
exhibition of important paintings by the renowned English artist, Francis Bacon. This will be the first show
of Bacon’s work at Marlborough since 1993. Marlborough Gallery represented Bacon for most of his career
up until his death in April 1992.
With the exception of one early work all the works shown in this exhibition are signed by the artist, and
several have been exhibited at different times at museums around the world such as the Grand Palais, Paris;
Tate Gallery, London; Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; The National
Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Marlborough’s show will consist of
nine works as follows: three quintessential triptychs dating from 1970, 1983 and 1986-87, each panel
measuring 78 x 58 inches; a rare 1957 painting of a pope, measuring 60 x 46
1/2 inches; Study for Self Portrait,
1981, measuring 78 x 58 inches; two other single panel works of the same size dating from 1988 (Jet of Water)
and 1990 (Male Nude Before Mirror) as well as two outstanding small works, 14 x 12 inches, from 1967 and
1982 of Isabel Rawsthorne.
One cannot overestimate the importance of Bacon’s oeuvre. He is very probably the single most important
artist England produced in the twentieth century and, arguably, along with Turner and Constable, the most
significant painter to emerge in that country’s artistic history. He would also be counted on most everyone’s
short list of leading artists of the twentieth century. One could simply say that Bacon had a highly original
mind and that as an artist he was a genius. No other artist of his time produced works of such visceral impact
combined with what The New York Times called “delirious beauty.” If the subjects of his work offer
“enigmatic glimpses like lurid images from barely remembered dreams or nightmares” (Ken Johnson), it is his
stature as an inventive and unrivalled painter which assures Bacon’s high elevation and which will endure
through the ages. In an interview with his friend, the art critic, David Sylvester, Bacon once talked about Van
Gogh and what he (Bacon) wanted to get in his work. He said, “Van Gogh is one of my greatest heroes
because I think that he was able to be almost literal, and yet, by the way he put on the paint give you a
marvelous vision of the reality of things. I saw it very clearly when I was once in Provence...one just saw in
this absolutely barren country that by the way he put on the paint he was able to give it such an amazing
living quality...The living quality is what you have to get.” That “living quality” could fairly sum up what
makes any painting a great work of art, and one might add that the more living it is, the greater it is. What
Marlborough’s show demonstrates clearly is that Bacon’s primary insistence was to a large degree based “on
the use of paint as the essential subject” and that in his best works he got that “living quality” time and time
Born in Dublin of English parents in 1909, Bacon traveled to Berlin and Paris before settling in London in
1929. After a brief career as a furniture designer, he took up painting. Although never trained as a painter, his
work began to receive wide attention after World War II when he exhibited his Three Studies for Figures at the
Base of a Crucifixion in 1945. Over his long career his works drew from sources as disparate as Velasquez,
Muybridge, newspaper and magazine photos, and film stills.
An illustrated color catalog of the Bacon show will be available at the time of the exhibition.
Jet of Water, 1988