Francis Bacon/Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone

An exhibition revealing the similarities between two of the greatest British artists of the 20th century.

Francis Bacon was Britain’s answer to French Surrealism. His raw, ravaged emotions were smeared and splattered onto the canvas as writhing bodies trapped in hells of their own making. The violence, the sex, and the alien aberrations are Kurt Vonnegut as painting, a frightening vision of human vulnerability.

On the face of it, pairing Bacon with his contemporary Henry Moore seems unusual, yet Moore’s sculpted figures, like Bacon’s appear to melt and contort into strange primeval forms that embody a conflict between the opposing forces of figurative and abstraction.

Moore also had a fascination for Surrealism and even signed its manifesto in 1936, revealing that these two monoliths of the twentieth-century were not so different after all.

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Brutal and savage, Bacon’s paintings have been said to 'kick you in the gut like no other artist’s can'. What more could we expect from the artist who had the power to communicate our most violent rages on canvas?

This exhibition features his painting ‘Lying Figure In A Mirror’, 1971, a fleshy amorphous form, half human half alien. Similarly, Henry Moore’s ‘The Helmet’, 1936-40 is a half human half-machine head, an aberration born out of two world wars and the mechanical age.


Venue details

Ashmolean Museum Beaumont Street, Oxford Oxfordshire OX1 2PH 01865 278000 www.ashmolean.org

Entry details

£4 with National Art Pass (Standard entry £8)

Tue – Sun, Bank Holiday Mon, 10am – 6pm

Closed 24 – 26 Dec

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What the critics say

ft

"Exhibiting Henry Moore and Francis Bacon side-by-side is a masterstroke... a brilliant pairing (obvious now, yet never before attempted by a museum)."

  • Jackie Wullschlager
  • FT