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Francis Bacon: Incunabula

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  • Posted October 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    O to be a fly on the walls of Reece Mews studio!

    O to be a fly on the wall of Reece Mews studio!, October 6, 2009
    By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews

    Francis Bacon continues to grow in stature as one of the most significant artists of the last century. There are countless books both in print and out of print as collector's items that survey his artistic output, dissections of his psychological makeup, his preoccupation with distortion and grotesquerie, books that focus only on his portraits, catalogues that accompanied his exhibitions while he was alive, and several fine retrospective studies that explore his early 'design' career up to and including his final large canvases or triptychs. There are also several excellent films, both from Hollywood and from interviews. So why does this artist's life and talent garner so much continued exploration? This excellent book FRANCIS BACON: INCUNABULA shines some light on this question. 'Incunabula' is defined as the earliest stages or first traces of anything.

    Martin Harrison and Rebecca Daniels have gathered much of the stimuli that fed Bacon's imagination - bits of torn photographs, newspaper clippings, pages torn from cookbooks, art books, and other paraphernalia. These images are then paired with the canvases that Bacon derived from the detritus that gathered around him in his infamously cluttered and filthy Reece Mews studio in London. Though Bacon repeated painted portraits of his friends and lovers he seldom 'painted from the model' in studio. Photographs and studies of animals and people in motion infused his perceptions of his 'models' and the results of seeing some of these gathered idea fragments in context makes Bacon's portraiture even more satisfying.

    Even for those who are collecting multiple volumes about the fascinating Francis Bacon, this book is a welcome addition to the library. It is well written, well designed and fills a void about which we to date have known very little.

    Grady Harp

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