Cover image for Francis Bacon : a retrospective
Francis Bacon : a retrospective
Farr, Dennis, 1929-2006.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams in association with the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, 1999.
Physical Description:
239 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Some pages fold-out to reveal other illustrations.

Catalog of an exhibition held at the Yale Center for British Art, Jan. 25-Mar. 21, 1999 ... [et al.].

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND497.B16 A4 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Three prominent Bacon scholars shed light on the painter's private life and on his working methods that he was particularly secretive about. 177 illustrations, 112 in full color.

Author Notes

Francis Bacon was born on October 28, 1909. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, to parents of British decent but lived with his nanny, Jessie Lightfoot, for many of his formative years. Bacon began painting in his early 20s and worked only sporadically until his mid-30s. He lived between England and Ireland for many years, earning his money by becoming an interior decorator and a designer of furniture and rugs.

In 1944 he created his breakthrough oil painting entitled, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion. The work is said to have been competed within the timeframe of two weeks. The painting was immediately seen as a sensation and established him as an important post-war artist. Bacon himself insisted that no retrospective of his work should include anything produced prior to 1944.

Bacon was plagued with chronic asthma which developed into a respiratory condition. He died of cardiac arrest on April 28, 1992. He left his entire estate to his companion, John Edwards, who then donated the contents of Bacon's studio to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bacon's first U.S. retrospective took place in 1963 at the Guggenheim Museum. Now, seven years after his death, another retrospective is traveling the country, accompanied by this richly illustrated and enlightening volume. Photographs of the artist and of his astonishingly cluttered studio provide a context for Bacon's masterfully unnerving paintings of wildly contorted figures seemingly held captive in vacant and menacing surroundings. A self-described "late developer," Bacon, born in 1909, grew up in perilous circumstances as the son of English parents living in Dublin, and as a homosexual. Banished by his father at age 16, Bacon learned to fend for himself in a world where his sexual orientation was a crime. Even after he became famous, he maintained "an aura of secrecy," although now what was hidden was his artistic process. Bacon always preferred to let his paintings speak for themselves, but he did confer with his biographer, Michael Peppiatt, and several of their conversations as well as three excellent essays provide the text for his technically superb, grotesque yet intensely human images. --Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

The Yale Center for British Art and the other museums (in Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Fort Worth) sponsoring this retrospective were generous in the production of this catalog. More than 150 pages, including several foldouts, are filled with reproductions of the 74 works in the show; extensive captions appear on facing pages. Preceding these entries are some short interviews and a pair of essays for the general reader that touch on all the important points in Bacons life and career and discuss his influences and style. And yet, something about the book seems incomplete. While the reproductions are fine, they do not convey the texture and hues of the originals, and this reviewer wished for more variation in the presentation, including close-ups and comparisons across the strict chronological layout. And there is the matter of this major retrospective missing a few key works, a problem the catalog unnecessarily mimics. Most of all one wonders about the aim of the bookor the show for that matter; neither is trying for anything particularly new in addressing one of the most exhibited and published artists of recent years.Eric Bryant, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

More than the catalog for an exhibition touring four American cities, this is a substantial book on the work of controversial and influential British artist Bacon (1909-92). Farr and colleagues, all experts on his painting, contribute perceptive and informative essays. Particularly so is the contribution of Michael Peppiatt, whose biography of Bacon was published in 1997. He discusses Bacon at work, and three of Peppiatt's rare interviews with the reclusive artist are published here. Sally Yard (art history, Univ. of San Diego), who has written on Bacon previously, contributes a brief biography. Dennis Farr, the retired director of the Courtauld Institute Galleries in London, writes on Bacon in the context of British art. The 70-plus paintings, some of which have not been widely represented before, are excellently reproduced in color, including several fold-out pages of the large triptychs. There is catalog data on each painting, extensive notes, a chronology, and selected bibliography. Recommended. General readers; undergraduates through faculty. P. C. Bunnell Princeton University