Francis Bacon

British Painter, Movement: Expressionism

  • Produced some of the most iconic images of wounded and traumatiszed 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’s canvases communicate powerful emotions – whole tableaux seem to scream, not just the people depicted on them. This ability to create such powerful statements were foundational for Bacon’s unique achievement in painting.
  • Work consists of  humanity’s capacity for self-destruction and its fate in an age of global war.
  • His paintings have inspired some of the most standout artists of this generation, including Julian Schnabel and Damien Hirst(RESEARCH INTO THESE ARTISTS TO UNDERSTAND INSPIRATION)



Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944)


  • The twisted bodies are all the more frightening for their vaguely familiar human-like forms, which appear to stretch out toward the viewer in pain.
  • The perspective lines in the background create a shallow space, alluding to captivity and torture.
  • Use of colours are bold and contrasting, the greyish/white figures stand out against the vivid background and make the figures appear more demon-like.
  • The Orange brings the figures to focus and gives you sense of terror and urgency.
  • The figures bodies are abstract but facial features appear more realistic, making the the expression the focal point of the image.
  • The bodies warped and posed in an uncomfortable position makes you feel disturbed.
  • Anthropomorphic creatures, disembodied, almost faceless portraits; mangled bodies resembling animal carcasses.


  • As a boy, he was fascinated by the raw flesh (relating to the figures shapes in paintings) that he saw hanging in a butcher’s shop in Ireland.
  • Bacon wanted to paint the human figure because he felt that abstraction, the dominant trend in post-war art, was superficial.
  • His solution was to depict human character at a level that penetrated much deeper than the camera: to “get on to the nerve”, forcing his viewers to confront brutality.
  • Triptych format ( SET OFF THREE, SEQUENCED) enabled him to depict things in “shifting sequences” like a film.
  • He pushed his painting to the boundaries of what was socially acceptable.


I’m a massive fan of Bacon’s work and am greatly inspired by it, I love the fact that it’s disturbing and breaks boundaries. It gives me a sense of horror and depression, though not positive it shows the reality of how one can be truly be feeling and to me that impacts you massively on a personal level. You don’t know exactly what was going through the artists head when creating this piece but you can only choose yourself to create a narrative but also knowing the history of that time gives you more of an insight.

I said from the start in my brief that I was interested and wanted to involve anthropomorphic personification and Bacon is a prime example of how you convey emotion through the figure and through colour.



  • It is a portrait of his lover George Dyer made at the height of Bacon’s creative power, it depicts Dyer sitting on a revolving office stool in a luridly coloured room.
  • The emptiness of the room really brings this distorted figure to focus and provokes this feeling of desolation and isolation.
  • Bacon using 3 colours consistently throughout, in the background all purple/blue tones and he then mixes the 3 within the figure with white highlights and it gives you this discombobulated appearance suited to it’s twisted form.

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