Irish-born English painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) created work that remains unmatched in raw force and vitality, and he is widely considered one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. Critic Ronald Jones has described his themes as "the howling subjects with which Bacon struggledExistentialism, Abstract Expressionism and the primal drama of a world newly acquainted with the Bomb." Bacon was preoccupied with probing the isolation and terror of the human condition, which he chiefly conveyed through a labored distortion of the human body. As Sam Hunterwho penned one of the first major essays on Bacon in 1950writes in his introductory essay to this volume, "what has become increasingly clear with the test of time...is the clarity, durability and powerful authority of his visual discourse." This concise monograph presents an in-depth survey of Bacon's entire oeuvre.
British artist Francis Bacon is one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century. His canvases of the 1940s bore witness to the traumatized psychology of the time and bestowed upon him a prominence that did not diminish in the course of his 50-year career. Recent auction sales have confirmed his works as some of the most sought-after of the Modern era.
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Though many reviewers and critics of this new edition of a 1983 book published in Spanish by the same name and by the same author are angry with the presentation of the Bacon paintings included, the simple fact that Michel Leiris' fine essay on Bacon, possibly the finest ever written, is once again available to the public more than makes up for the quality of the reproductions of the art. Leiris was in many ways Bacon's confidant, a man and a writer with whom Bacon shared his inner most feelings and life and stimuli for the paintings he created. Leiris writes with a quiet authority, with an immensely readable style, and offers more information about the real Francis Bacon than others - and the list of Bacon authorities grows all the time. In this hardcover edition there is a quotation as a frontispiece that bears repeating. Georg Büchner: 'In everything I demand that there should be life, the possibility of existence, and then all is well; we are not then called upon to ask whether the work is beautiful or ugly. The feeling that what has been created has life comes before either consideration and is the only criterion in matters of art.' This, from the creator of 'Woyzeck'. After Leiris elegant essay the book contains a large number of Bacon's canvases. Even with less than perfect reproduction these works seem to take on new meaning, reflecting the information in Leiris' words. This particular reincarnation of the 1983 book includes a full chronology of Bacon's life, a list of all the interviews recorded and a very complete bibliography that includes catalogues from exhibitions and an updated listing of all the public collections of the artist's works. Despite the flaws of production this book is well worth owning, especially since the Leiris essay is not otherwise available. Grady Harp