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Francis Bacon, ICA, London (1955)

Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. 20 January 1955-19 February 1955

The Paintings of Mr. Bacon: A Prophet of Doom

'Chief and most able of the English prophets of delightful doom is Mr. Francis Bacon. Fourteen of his pictures are now to be seen as the Institute of Contemporary Arts, 17-18, Dover Street, W.1. In canvases often enormous, on sombre grounds drenched with tones of self-induced apprehension, there sit, crouch, writhe, and huddle, the emblematic everyman of our troubled times. Their faces, all teeth and muscular contortion, are painted by dexterous smudges and calculated smears. Their bodies are hunched, and thoroughly uncomfortable. Scared yet defiant, sometimes enclosed in white cubes like cells devised for a self-sought solitary confinement, at others imprisoned behind bars like metallic rain, they snarl at the beholder (of whose interest in them they seem rather conscious), neither revolting against their miserable condition, nor yet, it would appear, particularly enjoying it [...]

'Mr Bacon's art is of our time, yet too much so; and already, to give fragrance to these frightening images, one can sense descending on them the Kindly and cloying aroma of a period charm.'


Extract taken from 'The Paintings of Mr. Bacon: A Prophet of Doom', Times [London, England], 24 January 1955, 3.