Francis Bacon Blue Crawling Figure, No. 2 c.1957–61

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Artwork details

Artist
Francis Bacon 1909–1992
Title
Blue Crawling Figure, No. 2
Date c.1957–61
Medium Oil paint on paper
Dimensions Support: 340 x 270 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and a group of anonymous donors in memory of Mario Tazzoli 1998
Reference
T07377
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

T07377

Oil on white wove paper
340 x 270 (13 3/8 x 10 5/8)
Purchased from Paul Danquah and Peter Pollock with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund and a group of anonymous donors in memory of Mario Tazzoli, 1998

Provenance:
Acquired from the artist (by 1961)

Exhibited:
Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, Tate Gallery, London, Feb.-April 1999 (27, repr. in col.)

Literature:
Matthew Gale, ‘Points of Departure’, in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London 1999, pp.25-6

Reproduced:
Richard Cork, ‘I can’t draw, said Bacon’, Times, 26 Jan. 1998, p.18 (as Crawling Nude)

Blue Crawling Figure, no.2 is more turbulent in its depiction of the body than the static form traced from it in Crawling Figure (private collection),[1] and then Blue Crawling Figure, no.1 (T07376). The figure writhes and drags itself to the right with considerable difficulty as if subject to an unseen restraint. In common with all the pages from Bacon’s spiral sketchbook, the handling is cursory and notational, as exemplified by the dotted line of the spine. This is carried over into the application of paint which places the dry scumbling, also used on the preceding page, within a more robustly laden outline of the figure. This was facilitated by tracing through the paper from the image beneath, Pink Crawling Figure (T07378), in which the form was first worked out. The line of head and shoulders, thigh and lifted left leg is followed closely. Perhaps the most peculiar result of this brevity is the elision of shoulder with the profile face in a double image reminiscent of Cubist overlaying.


The paper is heavily stained with oil and incidental blots. Three stains in the upper left follow those on the preceding sheet, as does the large stain in the upper right which grows dramatically towards the end of the sequence of pages. Such a condition implies the use to which the sketchbook was put in the studio, as well as its rough treatment amid Bacon’s legendary chaos.

Note:
This is one of twenty-six works on paper from the same spiral bound sketchbook showing perforations along the left hand side; general issues relating to their creation and preservation are discussed in the entry on Two Owls, no.1 (Tate Gallery T07355).

Matthew Gale
February 1999


[1] Repr. in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.25, fig.15

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