For our first Catalogue Raisonné Focus of the new year, we’re taking a look at what is perhaps one of Francis Bacon’s lesser-known works of art, Still-Life – Broken Statue and Shadow, 1984.
The work’s title, Still-Life – Broken Statue and Shadow, is significant in that it refers to a ‘statue’ and not a ‘sculpture’. Only one of Bacon’s surviving paintings contains the word ‘sculpture’ in its title, Reclining Man with Sculpture, 1960-61, and only one other alludes to a statue, Statue and Figures in a Street, 1983.
“Bacon frequently expressed a desire to make sculpture – although he always changed his mind about it. In 1974 he explained to David Sylvester that the extra plasticity his figures were acquiring was, ‘I suppose... through thinking about sculpture – I would like, quite apart from the attempt to do sculpture, to make the painting itself very much more sculptural.’
Bacon had talked of making sculptures as early as 1966, but realised he could ‘do them much better in paint... It would be a kind of structured painting in which images, as it were, would arise from a river of flesh.’
His description uncannily prefigures Still-Life – Broken Statue and Shadow, in which the atypically humanoid shadow, like those in Triptych, 1983, is unrelated to the shape of the ‘broken statue’. Hence, perhaps it depicts the ‘statue’ in the title, since this embodies the idea of a portrait.”
Martin Harrison, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné (London: The Estate of Francis Bacon Publishing, 2016) p. 1280.
To read the painting’s full exhibition history and selected bibliography you can visit the work’s dedicated website page.
Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné can be purchased through our distributor’s website.