Inspiring Artists: Who was Francis Bacon?

Mark Stevens & Annalyn Swan

Irish-born painter Francis Bacon was one of the most important artists of the 20th century, his raw, unsettling imagery emerging from some of the most traumatic events of the modern age. Who was he, as an artist and as a man?

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Irish-born painter Francis Bacon was one of the most important artists of the 20th century, his raw, unsettling imagery emerging from some of the most traumatic events of the modern age, including two world wars. Who was he, as an artist and as a man?

Bacon played an outsized role in the art — and the life — of his time.

In the studio, he captured the shadows of a dark century. After work, he swashbuckled through London’s Soho, a witty free spirit and unabashed homosexual during a period when many contemporaries remained closeted. He was equally at home in the cockney East End of London, the literary salons of Paris, and the hedonistic worlds of Tangier and the south of France, his exploits sometimes seeming to his friends as unforgettable as his painting. And yet, Bacon was a far more varied, nuanced, and surprising figure than the celebrated persona suggests, and he concealed much about his life.

Pulitzer Prize winning authors Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan won last year's The Times Art Book of the Year prize for their biography of Bacon, Francis Bacon: Revelations — ten years in the making and based upon newly-discovered diaries, hundreds of interviews, and extensive new research in Ireland, Tangier, Spain, England and France. Now, they are joining us in The Garden to get to the heart of the man behind the celebrated work and help you understand one of the great iconoclasts of our time.

Photograph © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved.

Buy their book 'Francis Bacon: Revelations' by clicking this link.

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Talk outline

Duration

50 minutes

Collection

Art & Society

About the Fellow

Mark Stevens & Annalyn Swan

The biographers Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan have spent decades in the art and publishing worlds of New York, Mark as a veteran art critic and Annalyn as the former arts editor of Newsweek and a former music critic.

Thank you notes from Garden members

Art & Society Collection

Art is often used as a medium to convey messages and meaning, not just to entertain & delight. Artists play an important role in reflecting and commentating on the societies in which they live. But how does influence society?

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