Francis Bacon: Time does not heal

Francis Bacon, who was born in Dublin in 1909 and died in Madrid in 1992, is without doubt among the most electrifying painters of the second half of the last century. An autodidact by nature, he initially worked designing furniture and interior decoration. Aesthetically, he had already become fascinated by the work of Pablo Picasso by the end of the 1920s. He hardly ever missed an exhibition; this art influenced him deeply. In protest against the style of some crucifixion images by his painter-friend Roy de Maistre (1894-196 8), in 1933, he picked up brush and paint himself and created his first pictures. It however subsequently took a number of years for him to find his own artistic path. In the process, images by other artists who impressed him were of help. Important stations provide evidence of his development: the early crucifixion images, the pope series after Velásquez (Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X), through the studies on van Gogh, and up to his triptychs. Not least in the midst of this net of works are the portraits he steadily painted of friends, in which traces of his later work were consistently displayed.


What distinguished his painting from the very beginning was his fascination with the figure, its surrealistic form, an at times shrill, animated use of color, and its application in a gestural, sometimes as if moving in dance, but not uncommonly also aggressive manner. He nonetheless bound these heterogeneous extremes together powerfully and confidently. In this way, he was able to begin a picture explosively but then once again force it back to itself. He knew how to calm the wildness and at the same time to bring every pose alive The image was the only thing in which he believed. Otherwise, it was only doubt with which he was familiar. He maintained that he had no philosophy and no belief. Here he was completely the nihilist. However, from this protest, he drew a great deal of creative energy. I consider life to be an utterly absurd matter. It has no sense, even if one is able to create a sense for oneself; this is however something one does have to do oneself. [i]


Throughout his life, Bacon wanted images, not illustrations. He sought reality within them, their own life, which depended directly on the perception of the viewer. This directness, their real presence was his goal as a painter. They are images that draw their power from their own materiality, not from the motif and its expressivity. Here he was very much the sensualist. This painter revealed himself from a dialectical agitation consisting of the bond to the figure and to the chaos of the experience of color. In between are sensations, chance, empathy, accident - and the immense will to image. What I want to do is to distort the thing far beyond the appearance, but in the distortion to bring it back to a recording of the appearance. [ii]


Nothing lives with such sovereignty in Bacon's painting as the paint itself. It has something immediate for him, a life of its own, that fluidness exploding in innumerable nuances and consistencies, which Bacon placed, threw, stroked without contours on the canvas in its raw state in order to wrest a form from it at the same moment. It is specifically not only the images that Bacon had in his head, the photos in front of his eyes that served as models, but also the energies awakened in the inner agitation that they cause to emanate. It is for this reason that these works look so different that those painted in other perspectives. These images, created vividly, capture that which is alive and want to reproduce it in as lively a manner as possible. They are emotional and wrought in great concentration as well as in the freedom of individual moments, snapshots, which have agitated sensations to thank for their birth, and present this in such a way that they have a direct effect. I believe that painting today is pure intuition and luck and taking advantage of what happens when you splash the stuff down. [iii]


These paintings are calculated towards their effect, they are intended - created from the agitated nervous system - to directly touch the soul of viewers and to touch, stimulate, awaken their nervous system. It is therefore also no wonder that, in the many exhibitions of Bacon's images in museums and galleries, both great apprehensiveness and calm prevail.  This is is grounded in those intruding confusions, through which they bring viewers to their own physical experiences and to themselves.


Just over ten years ago, within the framework of a ten-year-long exhibition series of modern triptychs, a three-part image by Francis Bacon also hung in the chancel of St. Peters Church in Cologne. This occasion was preceded by an encounter with the artist, an interview, numerous telephone conversations and an intensive study of the work. Many attempts to find a suitable image by this Irish born British artist for this Gothic apse came to nothing. In the end, Triptych ‘71. In Memory of George Dyer (1971) became possible and was meant to be. As a result of mediation by Claudia Neugebauer and Bernd Dütting, its owner, the collector and art dealer Ernst Beyeler in Basel, was prepared to send the work to Cologne on loan. The fact that one of the 30 large triptychs hung over an altar drew thousands of people to Cologne in the first two months of 1993.


The work suggests a concrete interpretation as a result of its subtitle. It is dedicated to the memory of his deceased friend George Dyer, who Bacon got to know in 1964. Dyer embodied the type of masculinity that Bacon always sought for his images: athletic, vital, dominant. None of his models played as central a role as did the body of this man. In many cases he inspired the painter to new portraits or figures. This individual shaped the world of Bacon's work even long after his death.


Dyer came from a humble background. He quickly succumbed to the glittering world surrounding this celebrated London star painter. Melancholic by nature, he sunk into ever-greater loneliness in the midst of the new world in which he lived as friend of the artist. Many rumors and comments were spread about the two after Bacon's death. However, a comment by one person who knew both of them might suffice: Bacon, says David Sylvester, robbed Dyer of his aim in life and of his identity[iv]. The rest was alcohol, depression, and increasing despair. In Paris one of the repeated conflict arose. Bacon was occupied with the preparations for his up to then largest and most important exhibition, which was meant to open in the Grand Palais on the 26th of October 1971. Dyer wandered through the city in which he otherwise knew no one. Because of inner tensions he drank too much alcohol, returned to the Hotel Saints Pères where he was staying along with Bacon, and in his despair emptied a tube of sleeping tablets. Although it appears that he did attempt at a final moment to vomit up the tablets and reverse the act, it nonetheless went awry. In the end he died, as can be learned from the police report [v], slumped down on the toilet. Here he was found at some time by some one.


Bacon was deeply affected by this incident and scarred for years to come. After returning to London, he began to grapple with what had happened. He grieved as an artist in that he created images. This resulted in a struggle lasting for years. The first work in this series is the Triptych ‘71. In Memory of George Dyer. As a first step, he attempted to realize and to understand. Still in the December days of the same year, in which his mother had already died some months before, he lamented in a conversation with David Sylvester that, although he had exorcised the bad spirits, he would never be truly able to escape them completely: Although one's never exorcized, because people say you forget about death, but you don't. After all, I've had a very unfortunate life, because all the people I've been really fond of have died. And you don't stop thinking about them; time doesn't heal. [vi]


In the center panel of the triptych, one scene is pushed from the right into the pictorial space that otherwise unifies all three images. The abstract light in pale pink from the left counters it at three positions and creates a dynamic relationship with the narrative framework of the image, which is unusual for Bacon. It is a staircase, one like that which ascends in the Paris Hotel Saints-Pères, with the door of a room and a toilet on the landing. Three levels establish this architecture, three fixed points determine the composition of this panel on which Bacon situates his protagonist as if amongst stage props: the empty canvas on the left, the open door on the right, the toilet above in the center. They are image frameworks that Bacon also otherwise employed in order to make images more forceful. To the left on the ascending staircase, a stretcher frame is set facing backwards and strangely aslant, which, resulting from its color, also looks like an empty mirror [vii]; and in which only a staircase lamp is reflected. Then, to the right on the floor, a dark figure is strains in front of an unlocked white door [viii]. Finally, above on the landing, a toilet in which Bacon's figures elsewhere wash themselves, shave, or relieve themselves can be seen. Here it is empty, a bulb throws a black shadow dimly [ix] over the toilet bowl within it.


In front of the opened white door on the floor/hallway, the animated figure in a black suit stands and is in the process of going through the opening. Its left foot turns in front of the door on scraps of newspaper, the right already placed behind it. The figure in the image is enigmatically fractured. Surreally, a strip of skin is drawn from the left - the width of an arm - to the right, bare, bright red contoured arm. This touches the doorknob with its elbow and thus guarantees the fragile figure its balance. It turns the key in the keyhole with its fingers. Ghostlike, the form proceeds upwards with the shoulder and head as shadow, however now turned around coming out of the room. Its reality is torn by the strip of light from the room behind the door as if out of all light. In the dark profile to the left, Dyer is recognizable. He looks - mired in his lonely struggle - numbly at the empty image as if at a dark mirror in the staircase. Nonetheless, it no longer holds any image; it reflects only the dim, swinging light that is about to lose its glow. And above, the golden light glows.


As so often the door in Bacon's world of images is a pictorial construct. Here it gives the figure a foothold in an entirely new manner, in that it nestles the figure around it, holds it fast, is virtually wedded with it. In this central panel the painter remorselessly grapples with the report on the incident recorded in the police report. He does not illustrate, yet he constructs the world of his sensations in this multi-layered image, as mystifying as it is fascinating. In relentless analysis, he churns up his painted traces of color, emotion and coincidence onto the canvas. And in doing so, he gives his grief a foothold and gives his questioning direction.


The pictorial structure also unusual for Bacon has a correlation in the third section of Ash-Wednesday, an early poem by T.S. Eliot. In it are formulations that correspond to the pictorial structure. In it there is the mention of the same shape twisted on the banister, there were no more faces of the slotted window, bellied like the fig's fruit. In between the call: Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair? It is the word-images of Eliot and it is a situation at a place of horror that complement and illuminate each other. The image of the three stairs that sheds light   oo on the site of the horrible incident? A literary image as a key to illuminating the darkness of this image?


At the first turning of the second stair

I turned and saw below

The same shape twisted on the banister

Under the vapour in the fetid air

Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears

The deceitul face of hope and of despair.


At the second turning of the second stair

I left them twisting, turning below;

There were no more faces and the stair was dark,

Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond repair,

Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.


At the first turning of the third stair

Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit

And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene

The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green

Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.

Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,

Lilac and brown hair;

Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,

Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair

Climbing the third stair.


Lord, I am not worthy

Lord, I am not worthy

but speak the word only. [x]


In view of statements Bacon made when talking about Eliot [xi], and at least in the giving of one title, speculations do arise, but they can however in the end not be addressed with certainty. It would not have been the only time that a line from literature elicited an idea for an image from him. Richard Francis, one of the individuals most knowledgeable about Bacon's art, responsible for him at the Tate for many years, and today the chief curator at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, asked him about this connection. Bacon answered in the negative. However he often did so when it came to the sources for his images.


From the left panel of the triptych, other images arise. Bacon mounts one of his balancing figures on a railing[xii]. Here it has lost its footing. In boxer shorts, it falls down, hits its head - and remains lying; the end at hand: Knock-out. Three visual elements hold the one falling down: the black of the shorts and the shoes, the grey of the shadow flying ghostlike, and the biomorphic puddle leaking into fleshy yellow below. Just as securely as the figure sits in the shorts, so does it explosively lose itself in the shadows of death, in the puddles of life, and, starting at the level of the chest, completely lose itself in its individual parts. Bacon raises his image to the extreme. The figure jerks and wiggles about as if it has more than two arms, and nonetheless dissolves into the ovals with which this painter so often began his images.


The fallen one leaks from his head, which has hit the railing, as twisted with pain as it is uncommonly expressive. As if the head is giving birth to a shadow of life, this time towards the left in a second form, as abstract as the head is realistic: an ensemble of circles and ovals in the new mix of his colors of yellow and red, and of white and black. They are those preliminary forms from which this artist otherwise said that he created his figures [xiii]. Here they move backwards, oval around oval, color around color, and create instead of the sculptural surface an aseptic visual space that demonstrates nothing but the lifeless, shadowy emptiness.


Only one of these small circles, the one in the lower fleshy puddle, interpreted in the literature at some times as a table-tennis ball, at others as the hole in a painter's palette, seems too sculptural, too moved animated in the red of its shadow to fit this interpretation. Perhaps it is actually that what it appears to be - a rolling ball, a ball from roulette perhaps, only that this time no patch of luck [xiv], as Bacon once expressed, follows but instead rather the suicidal logic of Russian roulette, which for him never made sense as he felt he lacked the bravery for it [xv]. For that, he loved life too much, as he recognized a few years later: I'm greedy for life <...>, greed for food, for drink, for being with the people one likes, for the excitement of things happening. [xvi] In this image he tears open the abyss between the greed for life and the reality of life itself. Bacon would have been the last to get out of their way. He therefore here brings his horror of this discrepancy into the image, the horror over the death of the beloved. It is his protest in images against an incomprehensible destiny.


Further images spring from the right picture. Their characters shape two canvases. One of them is once again attached to the same railing that formally connects the two side panels with each other. On the canvas, the portrait of George Dyer, based on a photo by John Deakin is not difficult to recognize. The image is however transformed in the lower part, as if the paint has flowed onto the railing, to the left dissolving, to the right as in the reproduced image that enshrines his form. As a whole, it seems as if the painter was trying to halt the process of decomposition, as if under the railing he holds a further canvas in perspective in order to stop the dripping of paint and draw the portrait out anew in rectangles and lunging ovals, reversed but nonetheless not a mirrored image as many have interpreted this element of the panel. It is painted headfirst. Yet the flow of paint is nonetheless not to be halted. The motif runs beyond the edge of the image. The colors escape the control of the artist as if the one to be depicted wanted to refuse; they do not allow themselves to be held back, and sink syrup-like into a final circle. Here the black definitively kills off every bit of yellow. Finally the grieving painter throws a thick white paste of paint directly in the middle. A tally/checkmark? As a final aggression against the model as well as against the beloved, who self-determinedly eluded him in his despair?


The artist can also no longer bring him back to life in his inner struggles. Here, however, Bacon does find a way back to the fundamental subject of his work, to the cynically manifested demonstration of the hopelessness/desperateness of human existence, to the defiantly shaped powerlessness in the face of a seemingly indifferent universe. Yet this time it is neither cynical nor defiant, this time it is only as a lament. It mounts, impelled by the grief that has fallen to him/come to/‘zu-gefallenen' internally, as radical as it is honest, as clear as it is pitiless in its accountability, the one, honest to himself, abandoned, and about whom - as Bacon otherwise also did - he creates no illusions for himself.


The three panels do not becalm Bacon's sensations agitated by despair and guilt, but instead the opposite: In the following years these sensations open up a series of constantly new images that refuses to end, in which the artist remembers the beloved and his model or deals with his painful emotions. This begins with a virtually defiant commemoration on that power of love in Three Studies of Figures on Beds [xvii], which he completed in April of the following year. David Sylvester calls it the celebration of Dyer's life. It is in fact one of the most impressive and sensual images dealing with the love and the struggle of love between these two men.


In three images, the inner agitation flows out of him in traces of color in and is applied directly on the canvas. Based on the form, the painter places a crouching figure and two wrestling variations based on Muybridge on three bed frames. Based on the shared contents, these images are an expression of the apparently unquenchable pain inside of him. Two times the male bodies are merged into one another in the color and in the movement, one time Dyer crouches upright alone on the bed. In the center image, his profile is especially emphasized and repeated in a cast shadow that is turned slightly to the left. Curiously, the shadows on the floor in the side panels have the same shade of blue as the bed frame in the middle. Three times does Bacon encircle the centers of the struggle in the head and body in large ring-shaped segments of circles. In the right image, the placement of the circle is filled with a slightly brownish shade and casts a black and a brown shadow on the mattress, which resemble stains. The entire work is finally defined by six small white spheres: four times the knobs on the bed frames, and twice as a type of joint in the knee and shoulder.


Only a few months later, Bacon finished the first of four three-panel images, which Hugh Davies called the Black Portraits [xviii]: Triptych, August 1972 [xix]. The colors of black and three different shades of grey shape the uniform, abstract pictorial space; black for a dark back room and for a cast shadow that clearly subordinates the side panels to the center one; grey for the floor and the framing of the doors. In the center, the Muybridge motif of the two wrestlers from the previous picture is repeated. However, this time it is not placed on the bed frame but instead in the middle on the floor. No circle articulates the merging of the two bodies in terms of color, but Dyer's shadow is repeated in the thicket of color comprising the head, this time in black leaking to the left. A geometrically abstract red shadow of color roots the white-red-yellow combatants in front of the black of the background in the monotone grey of the floor.


On the side panels, Dyer sits on a chair. This time a photo that Deakin made in the atelier serves as the model. Bacon painted the figure in front of the black of the background, but this time this eats into the figure like a shadow. On the left image, along the legs of the chair a light-colored liquid leaks from the body, it runs like the juice of a squashed fruit, flowing into a puddle. The fragment of a body damned to decay? Is it clamped between the darkness of the black that usurps it and the emptiness of the matter into which it dissolves? Almost cynically, the shadows misshapenly mirror the remains of a bent leg, as if the color strives to call the form to the chaos of the fleshly matter. For Bacon, these shadows are inseparably connected to the bodies, so that they drop like pieces of meat - literally - The shadow as flesh. In my daydreams I saw masses of flesh from which images emerge [xx]. Never before had this artist developed the iconography of his pictorial elements as systematically as in this image - as if wanting in his grief to conjure them up and scare them away, he positioned them that much more distinctly.


Nine months later, like an entry in a journal, Bacon titled a further image series: Triptych, May-June 1973 [xxi]. It is the most dramatic of all the images in which he grapples with the death of his friend. Once again a dark scenario unfolds before our eyes, this time not from left to right, but instead - as arrows indicate - in reverse. Once again, the pictorial space is unified: on a/the grey floor a dark red wall runs through all three panels with their three doorways into black rooms.


On the right edge of the image is a switch with which Bacon seems to switch on the light of memory onto the horrible incident. The reconstructed report on the chain of events is depicted in an austere manner. He shows Dyer in despair over the washbasin in his room, where he attempts to purge himself - but in vain. Corresponding to the angle of the upper body, the colors of the figure appear to flow into the sink. The mouth is wide open, yet except for two red spots, no liberating drop is thrown up. Only the shadowy black of the darkness of the room mingle between mouth and arm. The fact that this black can at the same time be the force of the grave blow of fate, is shown by the way it makes an odd curve on the floor: instead of a physically conditioned straight line, here a dramatically curved arc advances.


The center panel shows the man possessed by fear as he drags himself out of the room. From the left, without perspective, a light bulb casts phantasmagorical, black shadows over the body from behind and out of the room. These have formed a terrifying outline, as if bloated by increasing gases of decay coming from a gaping drainpipe in the bottom right [xxii]. The outline of the shadow somberly resembles one of those furies that have repeatedly populated Bacon's pictorial world since the crucifixion from 1944 and charged it with horrifying forebodings. They embody the ancient spirits of vengeance and the law of merciless   retribution. Driven in this way, in the final moments of his life, Dyer drags himself into the third image.


On the left panel, the friend crouches huddled on the toilet as he was found. The tension of the black shadow of the room, which strains forward in the first image and is dramatically, eerily bloated in the second, is now slackened. Life leaks out into a drain. The brutal game is at an end. The body remains behind and to the left is once again a light switch with which the horror of memory might finally be switched off conclusively, completely, according to the dictum: Accomplished! Understood!


Bacon arguably understood much in these images. He had not however completed the grieving. This came out of him in a further flood of images: Three Portraits: Posthumous Portrait of George Dyer, Self-Portrait, Portrait of Lucian Freud (1973)[xxiii]. The composition of the image is similar to those before: a continuous room, three imaginary doorways with hanging light bulbs, three figures in front of them sitting on chairs. However this time, much is different. The previously grey floor is patterned as never elsewhere - all over  -with red, blue, yellow and white brush traces. The walls of the room are light brown. Instead of dark doorways, now movable walls in bluish-brown are illuminated by bare light bulbs.


On the left panel and moved towards the left from the middle, Dyer sits on a chair in the pose from the Deakin photo as in Triptych August 1972. His face, in semi-profile turned to the right, is not worked through as elsewhere, in an impassioned manner in terms of color. He looks like a stranger, portrayed without particular interest as if from outside. His head casts a narrow, reddish-brown shadow on the movable wall. Towards the bottom a second, heavier black mirrored shadow like a carpet anchors the figure on the floor like an outline. Next to him on the wall, a painted photo with Bacon's face is attached with a pin. Hanging a bit higher that the figure, the head the same size, he looks with open eyes into the pictorial space as if petrified.


In the middle Bacon himself sits on the chair facing the front. With a shadow raised to the sculptural fixed ponderingly on the floor; he contemplates the fact of death and stares again with an empty look in front of him. He holds his right hand melancholically to his face. The head is realized in a manner that is comprehending and ransacked with color. He casts a blue shadow towards the right onto the back wall. The other hand accompanies a nervous trace of movement and at the same time traces the seam of his pullover. Two different small circles over the sex and on the right cheek give the circle of his watch two reflections, two echoes.


Also his painter friend Lucian Freud sits on a chair facing the front. He is placed towards the right of the middle and also drawn on the floor in heavy black shadows. His face is also designed with color and accident. As if in a sacra conversatione from the Renaissance, he is the only one to look out of the picture and fix the viewer with his eyes. In this way he links the observer to what is happening in the picture. Symmetrical to the left panel, there is also a photo attached to the wall here. It shows Dyer's face. This looks out at the room of the painter friend Freud decisively, aggressively, and almost accusingly at the self-portrait of the painter in the middle.


Yet a fourth series of images, in an earlier condition, also belongs to this flood of images that refused to end, that gushed out of Bacon, and with which he attempted to become master of an inner agitation of grief and disappointment. It is the Triptych 1974-77, which initially went under the title Triptych May-June 1974 for three years. The center panel shows three segments of circles and an interior. A narrow elevation at the edge of the rounding looks like the course of boards around the ring in a circus arena. Corresponding to this ring on the side panels are two abstract horizontal lines, which in blue can be identified as seaside settings. The sand on the sides and the floor in the center panel are in the same shade. Starting from the middle, two ovals point towards the right and the left in the side panels. They cast, as if in spotlight, two cones of light onto two figures under umbrellas who pose on idiosyncratic deck-chairs with scraps of newspaper. To the left, indefinite and without shadow, a male figure can be recognized, to the right is clearly George Dyer with a shadow cast to the outside.


In the center of the triptych an empty field of black is shown in the middle flanked by two smaller black fields in front of each of which sits a man as if at a circus. Yet despite the secularized setting, the picture seems very sacral. In front of the large area in the middle, the naked back of a kneeling figure can be seen; the head is sunk forwards, the arms wasting away into the black. A pink-colored shadow is drawn in gradations of lightness towards the bottom left. To the right and left of the black ground of this figure are two half-length portraits whose heads are captured symmetrically in front of small black rectangles. One of them is reminiscent of portraits by Michel Leiris, with whom Bacon had been very closely connected since the 1950s.


Originally a woman was found lying on a circle in the left foreground in the center panel, as David Sylvester has reported based on his discussions with Bacon. She originated from a painting study after Edgar Degas, from which also the two horses in the left image as well as the two naked backs come.[xxiv] The triptych was also exhibited numerous times in this form and can be seen in this condition in the accompanying catalogues. Later, however, Bacon painted over the woman in the middle. He deleted the detail with an oval. I think I painted it out very well so that it couldn't come back. I hope you don't see it emerging again ever. I don't see it emerging in my lifetime, at least. [xxv]


Although the desire for eradication may have been successful in connection with Degas, he from now on would not be able to delete the memory of his deceased friend George Dyer from his memory. Dyer remained alive in the pictorial world of this master, even if not as a lover, then however as a model, as his ideal model. He lived on in Bacon's images. Again and again, the model or individual pictorial structures from these images of grief turn up in new forms, for example the motif with the washbasin[xxvi], with the railing, with the umbrella [xxvii], the Deakin photo with the pose on the chair [xxviii], or the motif with the key in front of the door [xxix]. Perhaps this enduring presence was the price that the painter had to pay to this deceased individual, who kept him from catastrophe [xxx] and finally allowed him to make peace with himself and his model in these struggles of images that never wanted to end. Perhaps, however, this was also only the fruit of this relationship and these processes, the most mature in form and most prolific in realism, which was created in this powerful work: A life and an art in memoriam.

[i]. Francis Bacon im Gespräch mit Friedhelm Mennekes, in the catalogue Bacon. Triptych ‘71, published by Johannes Röhrig and Kurt Danch, Cologne (Kunst-Station Sankt Peter) 1993, pp. 10-18, p. 15.

[ii]. Francis Bacon in: David Sylvester, Interviews with Francis Bacon, London (Thames & Hudson) 1993, p.  40.

[iii]. Francis Bacon 1953 in a catalogue text about Matthew Smith, which seems to incomparably express/reflect his own intentions, in: Catalogue Matthew Smith, London (Tate) 1953, p. 12, here cited from Masters of British Painting 1800-1950, Andrew C. Ritchie, Ayer Publishing, 1981, p. 146.

[iv]. David Sylvester, Stationen eines Lebenswerks, in: Katalog München, p. 13-41, p. 26.

[v]. Details by Richard Francis in the catalogue Francis Bacon, London (Tate) 1985, p. 20.

[vi]. In Sylvester Interviews, p. 76.

[vii]. Cf. the center panel of the triptych Three Studies of the Male Back (1970), Kunsthaus, Zurich. All dimensions in this and the following image referred to - when not otherwise specified - are: 198 x 147.5 cm. The images can be found in: Michel Leiris, Francis Bacon. Full Face and in Profile, Barcelona (Polígrafa) 1983.

[viii]. Cf. the same motif in Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne (1967), 119 x 152.5 cm, Nationalgalerie, Berlin.

[ix]. Cf. the left panel in the triptych Three Figures in a Room (1964), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

[x]. 'Ash-Wednesday', from Collected Poems 1909-1962 by T S Eliot, © T S Eliot 1963, Faber & Faber Limited.

[xi]. See Sylvester Interviews p. 67, 136, 151ff.; cf. Triptych inspired by T.S. Eliot's Poem ‘Sweeney Agonistes' (1967), The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.

[xii]. Cf. Painting 1945, oil and tempera on canvas, 198 x 132 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; additionally: From Muybridge - Studies of the Human Body - Woman emptying a Bowl of Water, and Paralytic Child on all Fours (1965), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Triptych - Studies of the Human Body (1970), privately owned; and later Three Figures and Portrait (1975), Tate Gallery, London.

[xiii]. I begin exactly like an abstract artist <...> in that, that I make spots, markings, and when a spot seems to/give me something then I can structure the exterior of a subject that I wanted to capture on it. Bacon in a talk with Jean Clair, Maurice Eschapasse and Peter Malchus: Entretien avecFrancis Bacon, in Chroniques de l'art vivant, Paris, Nr. 26 (1971), pp. 4-7, p. 4; hier zitiert aus Hervé Vanel, Die technische Imagination, in: Katalog München S. 63-71, S. 70.

[xiv]. Cf. his statements in Sylvester Interviews p. 51.

[xv]. Cf. ibid. p. 124.

[xvi]. Ibid. p. 122.

[xvii]. Three Studies of Figures on Bed (1972), private collection.

[xviii]. Hugh Davies, Bacon's Black Triptychs, in: Art in America (63) 1975, pp. 62-68.

[xix]. London, Tate Gallery.

[xx]. Francis Bacon in the television interview with Richard Francis in May 1985, cited in the KatalogMünchen, p. 190.

[xxi]. Switzerland, private collection.

[xxii]. Cf. in addition the right panel of the triptych Three Studies for a Crucifixion (1962), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Also there, in the lower left of the panel with the erect carcass, an open drainpipe stretches.

[xxiii]. Switzerland, private collection.

[xxiv]. David Sylvester in Katalog München, p. 29.

[xxv]. Francis Bacon in a discussion with David Sylvester, in: Sylvester Interviews, p. 196;

[xxvi]. Cf. Self-Portrait (1973), private collection; Figure at a Washbasin (1976), Museo del ArteContemporáneo, Caracas; Water from a Running Tap (1982), private collection, Madrid; Man on a Washbasin (1989.1990).

[xxvii]. Cf. Seated Figure (1978), private collection, Malibu, Ca.

[xxviii]. Cf. Study for Portrait (1978), private collection, Hartford, Conn.; Study for Portrait (1981), private collection; Study for a Portrait of John Edwards (1988), London, private collection. Here Bacon placed another head on the Deakin photo, as he did earlier with the Muybridge photos, it is the head of his later companion and heir John Edwards.

[xxix]. In Painting (1978), 198 x 147.5 cm, private collection, Monaco; and Study of the Human BodyThe WasteLand: (1983), in Bacon's estate; cf. in addition the source of the idea for this image from Eliot's

...I have heard the key / Turn in the door once and turn once only / We think of the key, each in his prison / Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison... (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922)

[xxx]. Cf. in addition his initially defensive stance to this formulation in Mennekes Gespräch p. 10.