Unlike his namesake and ancestor, FRANCIS BACON (1909-92) was never granted a knighthood for his services to educated society. Nor should he have been. He deserved a title much loftier and more distinguished: Grand Horrifier of the 20th Century, perhaps. Bacon spent a lifetime terrifying anybody who chose to step, even for a moment, into his warped world of deformed, barely human figures and screaming faces. Frequently locked up as a child, Bacon was abused and cast out by his homophobic father, and he endured a number of painful relationships — the most famously tempestuous of which ended in his lover’s suicide. He wore all of this suffering on the distorted geometry of his face: to see a photographic portrait of him in his apocalyptically messy studio and staring at the viewer with a thunderous, undulating brow and deep, cold wells for eyes is enough to scorch Bacon’s visage permanently onto your retinas. Though he did have optimistic and uplifted moods, the Grand Horrifier poured his suffering into his art, and left us with a canon of canvas screams that memorializes the terrors and agonies of the 20th century.
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