Born in Dublin, the English artist Francis Bacon (1909-1992) claimed he did not find his style until 1945, with his “Three Studies of Figures at the Foot of a Crucifixion”. Acclaim came much later and it was not until the 1980s that Bacon gained recognition as one of the great painters of the century.
Continuing to reject all official honors, he remained obstinately bohemian in his private life. His painting is impossible to pigeon-hole in any school: it celebrates naked flesh, virility, the male figure captured in a scathing isolation, racked by birth-pangs, agony or some vague sickness of being, between Greek tragedy and contemporary angst. “I have never”, he once said, “been able to paint a smile”.
Set against flat-painted backgrounds, often in very vivid colours, bodies stretch and contract as if in a distorting mirror, imprisoned in a network of geometric lines obeying no recognizable perspective.
A man who loved wine, Bacon created a weird, whirling dance about a wine-glass for the Mouton Rothschild 1990 label, distorting it to the curve of the bottle.