Sources and Interpretations
This lecture was intended to celebrate the release of Martin Harrison's In Camera. This book is an exploration of the interplay between photography and painting in the work of Francis Bacon, with analysis of Bacon’s biography and psychology. Francis Bacon famously found inspiration in photographs, film stills and mass media imagery. This book draws on a broad range of source images and documents, many hitherto unknown, to reveal how these media informed some of Bacon’s most important paintings and helped to trigger significant turning points in his stylistic development.
Martin Harrison locates Bacon’s work within a tradition of artists making use of mechanical reproductions, including Picasso and Walter Sickert. Harrison also reviews Bacon’s painting in the context of key influences: film directors such as Sergei Eisenstein, photographers such as Eadweard Muybridge and John Deakin, and masters such as Velazquez, Poussin, and Rodin. In addition, Bacon’s work is considered in the context of his contemporaries, including Lucian Freud, Mark Rothko, Graham Sutherland, and Patrick Heron.
Analysis of elements of Bacon’s life leads to some startling and original insights into the man and the unique iconography of his art. With the aid of over 260 superb illustrations and the advantage of privileged access to unpublished material from the artist’s archives, this is a book that addresses important questions about Bacon’s practice and that, in reassessing key paintings, sheds new light on his life and work.