Francis Bacon Triptych – In Memory of George Dyer 1971

Francis Bacon Triptych – In Memory of George Dyer 1971
Oil on canvas
1980 x 1475 mm each
© The Estate of Francis Bacon/DACS 2008 Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel

This room is dedicated to George Dyer who was Bacon’s most important and constant companion and model from the autumn of 1963. He committed suicide on 24 October 1971, two days before the opening of Bacon’s major exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris.

>Influenced by loss and guilt, the painter made a number of pictures in memorial to Dyer. From this period onwards the large-scale triptych was his established means for major statements, having the advantage of simultaneously isolating and juxtaposing the participating figures, as well as guarding against narrative qualities that he strove to avoid.

But while evading narratives, Bacon drew more than ever from literary imagery; the first of the sequence, Triptych In Memory of George Dyer 1971, refers to a specific section of T.S. Eliot’s poem ‘The Waste Land’.

In addition to his own memory, for Triptych – August 1972 Bacon relied on photographs taken by John Deakin of Dyer in various poses on a chair. He confined his dense and energetic application of paint to the figures in these works. The dark openings consciously evoke the abyss of mortality that would become a recurring concern in Bacon’s later works.