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Bacon’s portraits are explorations of the human condition as much as they are character studies, particularly in works such as Seated Figure, in which the identity of the sitter is not disclosed. They also represent a complex exploration of pictorial space: the figure is simultaneously posed among some elegant items of furniture and confined within a box-like frame. This device, which was one of Bacon’s trademarks, underlines the sense of isolation as well as generating a claustrophobic psychological intensity.

July 2012