Francis Bacon Biography

Dublin (Ireland), 1909 - Madrid (Spain), 1992

Master British painter and printmaker Francis Bacon is probably the most famous and controversial of the British contemporary artists. He is known for his powerful, unsettling, and often grotesque, nightmarish imagery.

Born in Dublin, he fled to London at the age of 16 when he was thrown out by his father. He subsequently lived in Berlin and Paris, incorporating himself into the hedonistic underworld of the era, in his words, "Between the gutter and the Ritz." Although he never attended art school, he began to paint and draw, seriously influenced by the art of Picasso. Disappointed by the hostile reception his art receives, he destroyed nearly everything he created before 1944.

In 1945 he exhibited his first successful painting, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. The work instantly establishes him as a controversial figure, which is further fuelled by his paintings derived from the themes of Velasquez, turning his Pope Innocent X into a nightmarish image.

In the later decades of the century, Bacon's work became increasingly more respected and found its way into many of the major collections in the world. His work exerts an enduring fascination for its dislocation of the figure, its brilliant coloration, its unique combination of the intimate and the monumental. He lived a dramatic life, often as engaging and extreme as his works. He died in Madrid in 1992.

In the words of the Artist: ' (I try) to paint like Velasquez but with the texture of a hippopotamus skin. ' His artworks are characteristically painted with strong, jumbled brushwork normally depicting solitary or sad figures.

In 1985, Alan Bowness, the director of the Tate Gallery in London wrote: ' Bacon is surely the greatest living painter; no artist in our century has presented the human predicament with such insight and feeling. '

Selected Exhibitions


Francis Bacon - Die Portraits, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Celebracion del arte - Medio siglo de la Fundacion Juan March, Fundacion Juan March, Madrid

Summer Exhibition 2005, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Arte Del Siglo XX - Coleccion Internacional Del Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico , Fundacion PROA, Buenos Aires

51st International Exhibition: Always a Little Further, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice

Francis Bacon: Portraits and Heads, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (Scotland)

Group Show, Gagosian Gallery - New York, New York, NY

Faces in the Crowd - Picturing Modern Life from Manet to Today, MUSEO D`ARTE CONTEMPORANEA CASTELLO DI RIVOLI, Turin

The Triton Collection, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Den Haag

Bacon - Picasso La vie des Images, Musee National Picasso, Paris

Gegenwelten. Das 20. Jahrhundert in der Neuen Nationalgalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Francis Bacon, Ardou, Kazandjian, Galerie Jeanne, Munich


Beauty and the beasts. On becoming anima, MART-Museo dArte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Rovereto

'De wereld deugt, wijzelf helaas wat minder', De Appel, Amsterdam

What's modern?, Gagosian Gallery - New York, New York, NY

Modern Means: Continuity and Change in Art from 1880 to the Present, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

Africa - Beauty and Disaste,r Galerie Beyeler, Basel

Francis Bacon - Le Sacre et le Profane, Musee Maillol - Fondation Dina Vierny, Paris

Marlborough Re-opening Exhibition, Marlborough Galerie GmbH, Zurich

Francis Bacon and the Tradition of Art, Foundation Beyeler, Riehen

About Corporeality in Editions - Artist Books, Prints, Photography, Galerie Lelong, Zurich


Francis Bacon, IVAM - Institut Valencia dArt Modern, Valencia

Bilbao a Genova - La cultura cambia le citta, Palazzo Ducale, Genoa

The Human Condition: The Figure in British Art 1950-2002, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, Birmingham (England)

Bacon - Baselitz - Carrazai, Galerie Jeanne, Munich

The Stage of Drawing: Gesture & Act - Selected from the Tate Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art Sidney, Sydney, NSW

20th Century British Art 2003, Scolar Fine Art, London (England)

Dali - Bacon - Baselitz - Miro, Galerie Jeanne, Munich

The Painting never dries..., Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo

Representing the World, Frissiras Museum, Athens

Moderna Museet c/o Malmo Konsthall, Malmo Konsthall, Malmo

FRANCIS BACON: CAGED - UNCAGED, Museu Serralves. Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Porto

Debut 2003, Galerie Jeanne, Munich


El lenguaje del cuerpo, Galeria Elvira Gonzalez, Madrid

Impressions, Galerie Beyeler, Basel

LA PART DE LAUTRE, Carre d'art - Musee d'art contemporain de Nimes, Nimes

Themes and Variations. Post-war Art from the Guggenheim Collections., Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice


Graphik der Klassischen Moderne, Galerie Jeanne, Munich

Naked since 1950, L & M Arts, New York, NY

Pintura al desnudo, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Bilbao

Classics, Galerie Beyeler, Basel

Pop Art & Co - Uniques, Graphics and Multiples, Galerie Burkhard Eikelmann â?¢ Dusseldorf, Duesseldorf

Klassische Moderne des 20. Jahrhunderts, Galerie Jeanne, Munich

The Global Guggenheim - Selections from the Extended Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

Echoes of the Scream, ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Copenhagen


MAN - Body in Art from 1950-2000, ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Copenhagen

Echoes, Irish Museum of Modern Art - IMMA, Dublin

Der anagrammatische Korper, ZKM | Museum fur Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe

The Barry Joule Archive: Works on Paper attributed to Francis Bacon, Irish Museum of Modern Art - IMMA, Dublin

Francis Bacon, Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus Kunstbau, Munich

Die verletzte Diva - Hysterie, Korper, Technik in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunde, Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck

Selected Museums and Collections

  • Guggenheim Museum, New York
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
  • National Gallery of Australia
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
  • Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • Museum of London, England
  • Reina Sofia National Museum, Madrid
  • Tate Gallery, London
  • Musee National d'Art Modern, Paris

Selected Articles and Links

The Sunday Times , May 28, 2000 - When Francis met Pablo

The Irish Times, March 25, 2000 - The man who put the pain into painting

The Independent [U.K.], October 2, 1998

Francis Bacon Books

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