Swollen, distorted, painted in bruised mauves and imprisoned in triptychs, the figures in Francis Bacon’s art are among the indelible images of the 20th century. In a new biography, Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan strive to bring into focus the elusive figure of the artist himself.
There already exist pleasurably dishy memoirs of Bacon’s prime by his inner circle. Stevens and Swan, who spent a decade researching “Francis Bacon: Revelations,” aim for a more complete portrait. Bacon himself was tight-lipped about his activities before the exhibition in 1945 of his breakthrough “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion.” He actively discouraged biographers. But Stevens and Swan are excellent investigators, presenting novel details of Bacon’s early affairs, his short-lived interior-design career and the two years he spent in Hampshire during World War II, when asthma forced his retreat from London.
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