Bacon’s striking triptych Three Studies for a Self-Portrait, 1979 is available to view at The Met Fifth Avenue, New York. The piece has come full circle, having first been exhibited in the solo show Francis Bacon: Recent Paintings at Marlborough Gallery New York in 1980.
The 1970s was a time of change for the artist which deeply influenced his work. It began with tragedy in 1971 when his lover George Dyer passed away two nights before the opening of the artist’s retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris. In the years that followed Bacon produced his famed ‘black triptychs’ as a way to express his grief. During this time, he also began to paint self-portraits, perhaps as a way to confront his own mortality. Self- Portrait, 1973 for example features a prominent wristwatch as a poignant reminder of the passage of time and, fittingly, Bacon’s final, unfinished work was ‘Self-Portrait’ 1991-1992.
Three Studies for a Self-Portrait, 1979 was created using oil on canvas and has a sombre palette that is reminiscent of Bacon’s work in the aftermath of Dyer’s death. The piece shows Bacon’s face materialising from and dissolving into the darkness. Unlike other self-portraits, in this triptych Bacon hasn’t deformed his head to the same extent and so the piece takes on an almost photographic quality. Bacon was known to have used photographs to influence his work many times throughout his career. He found early inspiration to depict movement from Eadweard Muybridge’s, The Human Figure in Motion, 1901 and later John Deakin would photograph sitters for Bacon’s famed 1960’s portraits.
Three Studies for a Self-Portrait, 1979
The Met Fifth Avenue, New York
Gallery 907 on permanent display
*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visit, we recommend contacting The Met Fifth Avenue for all confirmation regarding displays.
Word ref: The Estate of Francis Bacon website.