Britain’s bad-boy painter, re-examined
Self-taught, controversial, and revered, Francis Bacon was one of the most talented figurative painters of the 20th century. This year, a major traveling retrospective marks the centenary of his birth.
He left home at 16. Banished by his father after being caught wearing his mother’s clothes, Bacon drifted between London, Berlin, and Paris for the next several years — surviving as a gambler and hustler.
Bacon got his start as a designer. He first gained notoriety for his modernist furniture and rugs, but quickly abandoned that career to focus on painting surreal, fragmented subjects, based on found photographs and reproductions.
He immortalized his fellow barflies. From the ’60s onward, Bacon painted twisted visions of his inner circle of drinking pals, including his lover George Dyer, who he first met when Dyer burglarized Bacon’s pad.
View work from Bacon’s traveling retrospective (and visit the exhibition in New York), read three classic interviews, watch video of the artist from the BBC archives, and buy the exhibition catalogue.
– Paul Laster