One of the giants of contemporary arts, Francis Bacon, was a charismatic, articulate, and well-read figurative painter. He was one of the most celebrated painters of the last century known for his idiosyncratic approach to the human figure. The self-taught artist in him depicts the human figure in scenes that suggest alienation, violence, and suffering of post-World War II.

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In the 83 years of the life of this Irish-born British painter from 28 October 1909 to 28 April 1992, he became an artistic powerhouse, creating paintings of terrifying intensity. Being a cinephile, a photography lover, and a surrealist admirer, Bacon borrowed his inspiration to become an exponent of his figurative style. He was named after his ancestor, the English philosopher, and scientist, who was widely known for his inductive reasoning.

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The trauma created by the world war, the sort of nightmares, is well portrayed in his paintings. The world seems to be dark before him. The difficult, and ambivalent relationship with his parents and his personal experiences, made a tinge of deckled edges in his paintings.


The visit to art galleries in France made him interested in art. Later on from the influences of modern and art deco styles made him an interior decorator. He was also interested in designing furniture and rugs. He developed an interest in painting influenced by the cubist style of Pablo Picasso and later on paved his way to more surrealistic paintings. Further, he developed his style to become a figurative painter. It is a representational style as it is derived from real-life objects lacking the essence of surrealism. This made a rejection of his paintings in many surrealistic exhibitions. The discouragements gave him a return ticket to the drifter’s lifestyle. He destroyed a majority of his work from before 1943, and only a few of them have survived.

The most celebrated work of Francis Bacon, ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’ becomes the turning point to his career as a self-taught artist. He uses to exaggerates the forms and uses brushwork and colors in an emotional perspective. This earned him an expressionist title which he rejected.

Brutally frank and horrifically pessimistic response to the world war is seen in his paintings. He doesn’t have religious feelings but all his works are based on crucifixion for him it was an armature on which he can hang certain sensations. To concentrate the image down, he used the technique of trapping the central figure in a transparent cage. This was seen in his portraitures. 

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Later on, references to poetry and drama become the central element in Bacon’s paintings. In order to avoid storytelling, he isolated the images from each other.

©The Estate of Francis Bacon/DACS 2008 Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel

He maintained a studio in London to continue his love for painting until the very end of his life. The literature on Francis Bacon is still expanding. The uncovering of his sketches, rediscovery of his previously lost paintings, enthralls the glory of him as an influencer. His studio space and his extensive collection of books and clippings are opened to his committed fans.


The works are intensely personal, and the interpretations he made were unique. The paintings inhabited by the reclining figures, or the imageries he used, allowed him to examine certain areas of human behavior. The movements of animals, whether baboons or bulls, dogs or birds of prey, he wants to understand the true nature of humankind.

He turned out to be an inspiration to terrible teenage imitators than the artists of that time. The twisted portraits of screaming faces, the dying popes, and inhuman creatures were the reason to attract the so-called audiences.

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 He chooses oil and pastel as his medium in the ‘sundeala’ board to imbibe the essence of a surrealistic world. The term that best describes Bacon’s paintings is realism. Though his works are mere illustrations, they can covey the feelings of a depressed, alone soul, a terrifying experience, or a nightmare, something that has an inner meaning. We can see the expressionist distortions in his paintings, but the reason did not justify the ideals of expressionism. He seeks to mock the routine, the superficial way we generally look at ourselves and the world, which itself is the bigger canvas.

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The type of relationship bacon sought to establish between his paintings and viewers is something similar to the attitude we might assume before a ritual whose meaning is unknown to us. Though the subjects for his paintings came from the past, or the portraits of people he knew, or the myths from the literature, he is not retelling their stories but stripping the original structure down to their essential human content. 

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The things that matter to him as an artist are not something that appears externally. He goes for the details, inside the reality. His monstrous imagination is seen in his grotesque images with a stroke of brush immersed in immense melancholy. The undaunted dynamism, the exhilarating behavior, and the impromptu attitude of Bacon are seen in his paintings with an aura of tragedy.

References Editors (2014). Francis Bacon Biography. [online]. (Last updated: April 27, 2021). Available at: [Accessed date: 13 September 2021].


She is an architecture student hailing from the small state of Kerala, in India. Writing has always been a passion for her and combined with designing, became the underlying rationale which led to the field of architecture. The thought provoking stories told by buildings and their surrounding environments brews her to be a storyteller.

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