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Francis Bacon: Painting, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis

Out now
Edited by Ben Ware, series editor Martin Harrison
Essays by Howard Caygill, Gregg M. Horowitz, Darian Leader, Catherine Malabou, Dany Nobus, Renata Salecl, Ben Ware, and Alenka Zupančič

Francis Bacon: Painting, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis explores new ways of understanding Bacon's paintings. Comprised of eight essays, illustrated in colour throughout by Bacon’s works, it is the second volume in the series Francis Bacon Studies, which seeks to illuminate Bacon’s art and motivations.

Francis Bacon: Painting, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis draws together some of today’s leading philosophers and psychoanalytic critics to go beyond established readings of Bacon and open up radically new ways of thinking about his art. The essays bring Bacon into dialogue with figures such as Aristotle, Georg Hegel, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Theodor Adorno, and Martin Heidegger, and situate his work in the broader contexts of modernism and modernity. The result is a timely and thought-provoking collection that will be essential reading for anyone interested in Bacon, modern art, and contemporary aesthetics.

Francis Bacon: Painting, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis

Francis Bacon: Painting, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis


Ben Ware: ‘the time is now right to open a new dossier on Bacon: one which pays attention to the diverse philosophical and psychoanalytic dimensions of his painting, while departing (in the form of dialectical shifting of the gears) from the Baconian theoretical narratives of the past. The essays in this collection constitute a significant step in this direction.’ 


Howard Caygill reads a number of Bacon’s paintings in the light of recent work on cynegetics or the philosophy of the hunt.


Gregg M. Horowitz argues that Bacon, who characteristically maintains a cool distance from his subjects, establishes an ‘unusual intimacy’ in his 1969 Study of Henrietta Moraes Laughing by painting what Horowitz calls ‘impediment to her absence’.


Darian Leader argues that Bacon’s art serves as an invitation to question and rethink the mirror phase theory of Jacques Lacan.


Catherine Malabou discovers in Bacon a new, post-deconstructive approach to ‘form’ that strikingly anticipates contemporary definitions of cerebral plasticity.


Dany Nobus understands Bacon’s artistic practice as a kind of psychoanalytic ‘painting cure’ that captures the ‘truth of the appearance’ through a ‘pasting of the paint’.


Renata Salecl looks at the distortion of faces in Bacon’s portraits and self-portraits and asks what has changed in people’s self-perception in times of selfies, neuroscience and new social media, making the case for reading the artist (at least in certain works) as a painter of the negative.


Alenka Zupančič picks up on the notion of ‘objective humour’ in Hegel’s Aesthetics and argues that this notion, which remains somewhat vague and obscure in Hegel, gains a concrete consistency in Bacon’s art, providing a new perspective on many key aspects of his work.



The Estate of Francis Bacon Publishing,

supported by Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation Monaco in association with Thames & Hudson, 17 Oct 2019.