Francis Bacon – The Archetype of Screaming Figurative Art

Francis Bacon, best known for his striking Figurative Paintings, was born on October 28, 1909 to English parents in Dublin, Ireland. Highly noted for the passion in his works, Bacon’s fanatical approach to art has always been a subject of debate. At an early age of 16, he left home to establish himself in designing. Travelling places from Berlin to Paris, he eventually settled in London, aspiring to become an interior decorator and a furniture designer. Later, he recognized his inherent talent in painting and gave up designing to pursue this art whole-heartedly.

In the beginning, Bacon exhibited his paintings only to his close friends, and it was only after World War II that he kept his paintings open for public view for the first time. Mostly focused on human figures, his style carried an element of the weird & the creepy. His artworks distinctly depicted the combinations of haunting and disturbing imageries. This unique style was appreciated and renowned not only for its apposite expression of torment and pain but also for its finesse. This opulence can be seen in his magnificent paintings like, the vaporizing head in front of a curtain and the screaming figure crouching under an umbrella.

By early 1950s, Francis Bacon had developed a more matured style of painting. He picked up cues for his paintings from the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge and inter-mingled them with the paintings of age-old classic masters. This enthusiastic use of this technique can be clearly seen in his famous painting, the ‘Screaming Face’ where he had incorporated leads from the Portraits of Pope Innocent X by Diego Velazquez and images from Sergei Eisenstein’s film ‘The Battleship Potemkin.’ Bacon’s themes conveyed the emotions of isolation, fear, and suffering, in turns. The single figure (protagonist), usually a friend, a lover, a character from a movie still, a historic personality or may be himself, were presented in a claustrophobic cabin, screaming in severe physical or psychic distress. Self-taught techniques and improvisation guided him through his painting of bizarre and sordid humanity. Francis’ well-wishers and critics often questioned his use of a constant backdrop of agony, torture, and sorrow in his paintings. Historians try to draw a connection in Bacon’s melancholic themes and the death of his very close & long time companion, George dyer. Though, the existence of such a connection is still a matter of discussion.

Some of his famous works include ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944),’ ‘Figure in a Landscape (1945),’ ‘Painting (1946),’ ‘Head I (1948),’ and ‘Figure in Frame (1950).’ His dramatic and spellbinding works effortlessly stand out in an epoch of abstract art, and have brought him instant fame and recognition. Francis Bacon died of heart failure in Madrid, Spain, on April 28, 1992.