This frank portrait of Anglo-Irish painter Francis Bacon (1909-92) contains enough juicy details about his lurid sex life and hard partying to satisfy even the most avid consumers of art-world gossip. But art critic Michael Peppiatt, who knew Bacon personally, also provides insightful analyses of his paintings and the nerve their anguished subject matter and technique struck in the uneasy years following World War II. In addition, Peppiatt illuminates the autobiographical roots of powerful works such as Pope I
, Three Studies for a Crucifixion
, and In Memory of George Dyer
From Library Journal
These two books enrich the already substantial Bacon bibliography with different but equally successful approaches. While Peppiatt's biography fleshes out, with lucidity and scholarship, biographical and contextual details heretofore unexplored, Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits is a lavishly produced treat with a sharp focus, carefully chosen reproductions, and inspired writing. Peppiatt (editor of Art International) brings both a critical and a personal perspective to his subject, as he was a close friend of the artist. Bacon's haunting images almost beg for psychological exploration; likewise, one is tempted to search for elements of the artist's hidden, exceptional life (and lifestyle) in his work. The new information Peppiatt provides about Bacon's early years enlarges the already complex portrait of the artist, and the interplay of persona and paintings adds up to a compelling and readable study. Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits is composed of Bacon's representations of people?ranging from Lucian Freud to Mick Jagger?with many details and photographs that unveil the remarkable likenesses retained in studies that on the surface are gross distortions. Kundera's essay explores links with Picasso and Beckett and is wonderfully perceptive, while Belgian art historian Borel's prose is provocative?albeit a bit ponderous, possibly in part because of the translation. Both titles are highly recommended for 20th-century art collections, although the latter is more of a luxury.?Heidi Martin Winston,
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