Francis Bacon was a damned painter from Dublin, at the limits of aesthetic pathology, master of defiguration or deformity. He marked his study on the ruthless analysis of the human condition, creating an image of a distorted and disfigured man. The characters in his paintings were often reelaborations of pre-existing images: anonymous photographs, frames from films or medical illustrations of illnesses. Emblem of the cold and lucid path of representing loneliness and human suffering that followed him throughout his artistic life, are the continuous revisitations of Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X. He disfigured the perfect image of the Spanish artist in the attempt to reinterpret it in the light of contemporary society’s torments. In 1954 Bacon represented England, along with Ben Nicholson and Lucien Freud, at the Biennale of Venice and continues to be one of the most significant painters of the century in exhibitions that were held in London, New York and Chicago. Bacon’s work, characterized by a violent expressionistic charge that has been formally compared to Van Gogh and Munch, had a strong influence on painters of future generations, especially on the so-called new figuration.
Francis Bacon produced some of the most iconic images of wounded and traumatized humanity in post-war art. Borrowing inspiration from Surrealism, film, photography, and the Old Masters, he forged a distinctive style that made him one of the most widely recognized exponents of figurative art in the 1940s and 1950s. Bacon concentrated his energies on portraiture, often depicting habitues of the bars and clubs of London's Soho neighborhood. But his subjects were always portrayed as violently distorted, presented not as sociable and charismatic types but as isolated souls imprisoned and tormented by existential dilemmas. One of the most successful British painters of the twentieth century, Bacon's reputation was elevated further during the widespread return to painting in the 1980s, and after his death he was viewed by some as one of the world's most important painters.