Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Francis Bacon (1909-1992) was an Irish-born British figurative painter. He was a collateral descendant of the Elizabethan philosopher Francis Bacon. His artwork is known for its bold, austere, and often grotesque or nightmarish imagery. He was a self-taught painter who destroyed a large part of his output, so much so that virtually nothing of his early work has survived. The picture at the right represents his last painting, possibly the beginnings of a portrait of his lover George Dyer who committed suicide, on the easel, photographed by Perry Ogden in 1992, some time before the death of the artist.

Bacon considered his paintings to be the reflection of his nervous system projected on to canvas, and his opinion, expressed in 1953, that painting is pure intuition and luck, was the presage of the action painting and Abstract Expressionism that was soon to dominate the scene, although he rejected abstract art for himself, since he felt that it evaded the problem of the representation of the human figure which he regarded as the artist's principal challenge. He has been acclaimed as the greatest English artist since Turner.

This picture by him, Second Version of Study for Bullfight No1 (1969) was sold in November 2007 for $ 46 million. The sum was so high that some experts questioned the price and anticipated a crash of the art market. Almost a year later, in the background of soaring energy and food prices, art market prices are still on the go. Some experts justly point out that the art market is not anymore a rarefied area animated by a small minority of very rich people but a culture industry. The preeminence of New York, London and Paris are a thing of the past in as much as China, Russia, India and the Middle East therefore contribute with huge appetite to the well being of the global Art market.

Others underline the forgotten fact that most galleries are starving, that public attention is attracted by the huge prices fetched at Sotheyby's and Christie's thanks to phenomally rich (and crazy) collectors but that, apart from the classical moderns and some Expressionists, the whole middlefield is "as difficult as always."

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