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Bulls, baboons, dogs and birds of prey, Francis Bacon’s fascination with the animal kingdom informed his perception of humankind, dominating his prolific career.

This powerful exhibition focuses on Francis Bacon’s fascination with animals. Born the son of a horse-breeder, his experience with animals began at an early age and remained the most prominent thread in his work throughout his expansive 50-year career.

He was particularly fascinated by how his perception of animals shaped and distorted his approach to the human body, feeling that the study of animals was the best way to gain insight into the nature of humankind. Much of his inspiration came from watching animals in the wild on trips to South Africa. The figures that frequent his paintings are barely recognisable as either man or beast, depicted in extreme moments of human existence. A highlight in the exhibition is the trio of bullfight paintings, which will be exhibited together for the first time, with some of his earliest works and his last-ever painting also on display.

An openly gay man when homosexuality was illegal, Bacon was banished from his family by his conservative father when he was just 16. His life and the work produced throughout his formative years have always been seen to run parallel with some of the most shocking events of the 20th century, as the artist moved between Berlin, Paris and London.

Known for the evocative, raw nature of his paintings, his human and animal works, intertwined in this exhibition, demonstrate the poignancy of his work in the modern day, celebrating the expansive career of this hugely influential artist.

PaintingModern artLondonArt gallery

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