Francis Bacon
Figure with Arms Swung Out c.1957–61

Artwork details

Francis Bacon 1909–1992
Figure with Arms Swung Out
Date c.1957–61
Medium Oil paint on paper
Dimensions Support: 340 x 265 mm
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
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

Strenuous poses are found throughout Bacon's dismembered sketchbook. These pages show careful variations alongside switches of scale and medium. Among the identifiable sources are the split-second photographs from Eadweard Muybridge's 'The Human Figure in Motion' (1901) which Bacon much admired. 'Figure with Arms Swung Out' is taken from a runner preparing for a race. Dispensing with their contexts, Bacon made the figures' actions inexplicable even as they remained credible. 'Figure Lying Flat' is traced from the less easily deciphered 'Figure in Grey Interior', which, in turn, shows a structure around the figure which Bacon also used in contemporary paintings.

September 2004