Exhibitions - Milwaukee Art Museum

Francis Bacon: Paintings from the 1950s
January 27 - April 15, 2007
Baker/Rowland Exhibition Galleries

Francis Bacon: Paintings from the 1950s is the first exhibition to look in detail at this extraordinarily fertile decade in Bacon's life and affords the viewer unprecedented insight into the artist's imaginative powers as well as his constantly evolving sources and techniques. Although the most fruitful years in Bacon's career, they were also the most tumultuous and tortured in the artist's unsettled existence; Bacon was regularly without a fixed address, borrowing rooms and changing studios with bewildering frequency. By the 1950s, Bacon had acquired sufficient technical prowess to forcefully express his vision, but he was still not fully in command of his disturbing images, which appear to rise from a dark well of the unconscious. Yet the rawness and sense of urgency exhibited in these pictures transcend any pictorial problems that Bacon eventually did come to resolve with experience and technical ability. From the screaming heads and snarling chimpanzees of the late 1940s through the early Popes and portraits of van Gogh to the anonymous figures trapped in tortured isolation of some ten years later, Bacon created many of the most central and memorable images of his entire career during this time. Also making an appearance were dogs, owls, and elephants; sphinxes, children, and naked women; heads of William Blake, self-portraits, and portraits of friends. For this painter whose imagination so rarely strayed beyond the walls of a dark, claustrophobic interior, there were even glimpses of the African and French landscape.


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