Tags for: Francis Bacon: Study for Portrait VI
  • Special Event

Francis Bacon: Study for Portrait VI

Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 12:00 a.m.–Saturday, December 31, 2016, 10:59 p.m.
Location:  224A Contemporary Corridor
Betty and Max Ratner Gallery
Gallery 224

About The Event

Generous loan from the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Francis Bacon’s portraits of screaming heads and contorted figures trapped in boxes and cages are among the most disturbing images of the human figure in the history of 20th-century art. Study of Portrait VI, a masterpiece in this genre, offers deep insights into Bacon’s alarming commentaries on the human condition. This painting is the culmination of a series that Bacon began as portraits of his friend, but they subsequently became entwined with visions of Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X. As the series progressed, the figure became more agitated, the mouth open to emit a terrifying scream, and the face nearly obliterated by dripping paint. The ghostly, transparent figure sits in a dark room, his body immobilized by a curvaceous gold framework, while receding white perspective lines lead toward a rectangular shape, denying any possibility of escape from this tomblike space. The composition epitomizes Bacon’s method of situating isolated figures in terrifying situations that convey profound feelings of angst, pain, horror, and confusion, alluding to the mental anguish many artists felt during this postwar period of existential crisis.

Study for Portrait VI, 1953
Francis Bacon (British, 1909–1992)
Oil on canvas; 151.5 x 116.2 cm
Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Miscellaneous Works of Art Purchase Fund 58.35
© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved / DACS, London / ARS, NY 2014

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