Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
Despite his lack of formal art training, the work of Dublin born Francis Bacon has established a stronghold in the Contemporary Art market. His father, an Englishman and distant descendant of the Elizabethan philosopher Francis Bacon, was a racehorse trainer and his mother an heiress to a Sheffield steel business and coal mine.
In 1929, Bacon moved to a studio in South Kensington and began his career as a furniture designer and interior decorator soon producing some of his earliest paintings. In 1945 the exhibition of his Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion at the Lefevre Gallery on New Bond Street created a buzz in the artworld and immediately secured his reputation. The triptych is now considered quintessential Bacon, but in 1945 the bright orange background with the stone cold anthropomorphic forms were disquieting and visually unsettling.
Bacon's works are often in the form of triptychs and often use mythological allusions and distorted human forms to engage the viewer. In his lifetime, he finished approximately 600 paintings and 40 printed works. However, after his death, 98 slashed canvases were found in his studio, a testament to his own exacting and critical eye.
His recent retrospective at the Tate Britain from 2008-2009 (which subsequently traveled to the Museo del Prado in Madrid and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York) has brought more attention to his life and has contributed to the strong prices in the marketplace for his works.