This 2017 movie is available on YouTube in glorious HD.
Bacon is probably my second favorite painter after Van Gogh, and then I don’t even have a #3 (unless it’s me). Bacon’s sordid personal life, however, is not my cup of tea (there’s a very heavy dose of sado-masochism in that brew). The film lovingly details some of the more startling or even shocking aspects of Bacon’s private life, including a crime he’s involved in. The footage of him at a retrospective trying to play the role of “Francis Bacon” while his former lover lay dead in his hotel room is about the most unsettlingly revealing live documentation I’ve seen of an artist. [Perhaps I’ll do a tribute painting based on one of the stills.]
I’d read several books on Bacon, including the famous interviews by David Sylvester, which are truly outstanding and the best artist interviews I’ve read, period. However, most of the more savory, or shall I say unsavory bits have been left to discover after the artist’s own death. And here they are unveiled for you.
There is excellent integration of his artwork, and overall it’s a superb documentary that kept this Bacon fan on the edge of his seat. In the end Bacon is ever more human, as are the people in his paintings. Even though I knew that one of his famous triptychs was dedicated to a lover who committed suicide (found dead on the toilet), the film really hits this home.
Perhaps the best part, other than seeing Bacon the mortal and vulnerable human being, was that certain paintings, even ones I’ve studied over and over, suddenly looked a little different, in a different light, and I was surprised anew by old paintings at how amazing new they truly are.
[And for you Bacon fans out there here’s a feature article I wrote defending Bacon against his biggest contemporary critics and ripping them to shreds: In Defense of Artist, Francis Bacon.]
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