Tate Britain Level 2
11 September 2008 – 4 January 2009
An exhibition of the work of Francis Bacon (1909-1992) opening in September 2008 at Tate Britain will be a major celebration heralding the artist’s centenary in 2009. As the first UK retrospective since 1985, it will afford a re-assessment of his work in the light of the new research that has emerged since the revelation of his studio and its contents following the artist’s death. Comprising around 60 works and covering the artist’s career, the exhibition will bring together the most important works from each period of his life. It will be the largest display to date to examine Bacon’s sources, processes and thoughts.
Francis Bacon is widely acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s greatest painters of the figure. His paintings of the 1940s bore witness to the shattered psychology of the time and shot him to prominence that hardly diminished over the next fifty years. He captured sexuality, violence and isolation in his unflinching depictions of the anxieties of the modern condition.
The exhibition will explore Bacon’s philosophy that man is simply another animal in this godless world,subject to the same natural urges of violence, lust and fear that are physically evident in the body. Bacon’s output was dominated by the human body but these works will be displayed, just as they were when they were first made, with a number of representations of animals and visceral landscapes. The exhibition will bring together many celebrated paintings and triptychs including Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944 (Tate Collection), Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X 1953 (Des Moines Art Center, Iowa), Crucifixion 1965 (Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich) and In Memory of George Dyer 1971 (Fondation Beyler, Basel).
Francis Bacon was born in 1909 in Dublin, of English parents. Before the war he spent time in London, Berlin and Paris. After working first as an interior designer, he beganto paint around 1928. He destroyed most of his early works but emerged in 1945 as a major force with his Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. He soon secured a reputation as one of the most important artists of his generation. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale 1954 and had retrospective exhibitions at the Tate Gallery in 1962 and 1985, the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1971 and the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1989.
The exhibition is curated by Matthew Gale, Head of Displays, Tate Modern, and Chris Stephens, Head of Displays, Tate Britain. An accompanying catalogue will bring together a range of authors and will serve as a review and development of recent scholarship. The exhibition will tour to Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid from 3 February – 19 April 2009. It will be the first ever major Bacon retrospective in Madrid, the city where he died in 1992 and which houses the great works of the artists he most admired, Velazquez and Goya. It will then travel to the US to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from 18 May – 16 August 2009.