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Part man, part beast, these howling creatures first appeared in Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, which Bacon painted during the Second World War. One critic described that picture as a reflection of ‘the atrocious world into which we have survived’. Bacon identified his distorted figures with the vengeful Greek Furies, while the title places them in the Christian context of the crucifixion. In this version, painted in 1988, Bacon changed the background colour from orange to blood red, and placed more space around the figures, plunging them into a deep void.

November 2005