A Francis Bacon retrospective at the Pompidou Centre


The Centre Pompidou is organizing a retrospective dedicated to painter Francis Bacon until January 20th 2020. Presented from an original angle, the exhibition entitled “Bacon en toutes lettres” (“Bacon in all letters”) puts forward the link between the painter’s works and literature, from extracts of texts of Francis Bacon’s personal library.

Francis Bacon when painting is an outlet

A major figure in 20th century painting, Francis Bacon was haunted by the fear of death throughout his life. Painting was a way to express his anxieties. Suffice to say that these are not aesthetic representations, but tormented, bloody, dismembered, flayed, quartered bodies, vomit, mouths screaming their despair. These representations aren’t there to shock the public, but to confront them with the violence of the human condition. We may not come out unscathed, but most likely transformed, a little stronger.

A new perspective on the works of Francis Bacon   

The last exhibition devoted to Francis Bacon at the Pompidou Centre dates back to 1996. Twenty-three years later, the museum presents a journey made up of around sixty canvases, most of which were made between 1971 and 1992, the year the artist disappeared. This time around, the museum has chosen to focus on the influence of literature in the work of Francis Bacon. It’s made up of six rooms in which visitors can listen to extracts from texts by Aeschyle, Michel Leiris, Nietzsche, George Bataille, TS Eliot and Joseph Conrad, authors who were all a source of inspiration for the painter. The public will no doubt recognize certain voices with familiar sounds in passing, those of André Wilms, Mathieu Amalric, Hippolyte Girardot, Jean-Marc Barr or Valerie Dreville.

Francis Bacon, stories in three stages  

The Centre Pompidou has chosen to present twelve of Bacon’s famous triptychs, with monumental dimensions. Though these spectacular works fascinate collectors today, there was very little interest in the 80s, a period when the public was less interested in the painter than in the 60s and 70s. One of these triptychs has suffered the effects of this disenchantment. Dismembered by the collector who owned it at the time, panels were sold separately: one was acquired by the Centre Pompidou, the other by two private collectors. Two of them, Study of the Human Body and Study for the Eumenides are presented in this exhibition today.

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