The subject of this month’s Catalogue Raisonné focus, Three Figures in a Room, 1964, is currently on show at Francis Bacon: Faces and Figures, at Skarsted Gallery New York.
This exhibition features depictions of some of Bacon’s most beloved friends, lovers, and muses, including George Dyer, whom he met in late 1963. Three Figures in a Room, 1964 evokes the sense of Bacon’s heady and passionate early relationship with Dyer.
The outer panels depict George Dyer, sexualised in the first flush of Bacon’s relationship with him, while in the centre panel Dyer’s portrait is morphing with Bacon’s.
The pale grisaille painting of the bodies is wiped and smeared, dynamically kinetic in contrast with the neutral, static ground. Dyer on the right, arm raised as a sexual inducement that makes explicit the implications of the Lycean Apollo, is further defiled by two gobs of thick, white paint.
Excerpts: Martin Harrison, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné (London: The Estate of Francis Bacon Publishing, 2016 p. 760).
In the left-hand panel, the back view of a naked Dyer sits on what appears to be a toilet basin. This back view is repeated in Three Studies of the Male Back, 1970.
Bacon once commented to Hugh Davies that ‘Backs are very much a part of Muybridge, you become very conscious of backs from him’.
Excerpt: Martin Harrison, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné (London: The Estate of Francis Bacon Publishing, 2016 p. 946).
Edward Muybridge was a photographer whose works depicting the movement of the human body had a great influence on Bacon.
Sadly as with Bacon’s prior lovers, the relationship was tempestuous, dysfunctional and prone to violence. In 1971, days before the opening of an exhibition where this painting was to be displayed, Dyer committed suicide.
Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné can be purchased through our distributor’s website