Francis Bacon's Pope Exhibit - Tate Britain

Francis Bacon's Pope Exhibit - Tate Britain
Francis Bacon may be one of the greatest 20th century painters from the UK. A major retrospective was at Tate Britain and ran until January 4, 2009.

Francis Bacon was an artist with many obsessions. He had seen illustrations of Diego Velazquez's "Pope Innocent X" (1650) and used that as the theme for his Pope series.
Bacon had watched the Russian propaganda film "The Battleship Potemkin" (1935) many times and used the idea of the screaming nurse for his "Screaming Pope" series.

Francis Bacon was a non-believer in Christ and Christianity, but he none-the-less painted the figurehead of the Catholic Church on canvas, in a boxed, restricted manner. The vertical lines put the subject almost behind bars, it would seem. As for the screaming, I think Bacon wanted to inflict further pain to the pope and his position at the seat of the Catholic Church.

Francis Bacon was also fond of painting triptychs and "Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion" (1944) is another attempt at mocking Christianity. The subjects here are distorted animals that have been slaughtered or "crucified." Everyone (including artists) is certainly entitled to his/her own interpretation of a subject matter. (Even if it is repulsive and gruesome).

Is it true that a nanny punished Francis Bacon when he was a child and was made to stay in the cupboard? Or is the artist revealing his own nightmares and reproducing them on canvas?

Personally, I have always liked the Screaming Popes. They're as surrealistic as the paintings by Salvador Dali. It's simply a matter of artistic taste.

What do you think?

Tate Britain has an interactive tour of the Francis Bacon exhibit. It is fun and easy to navigate through the various rooms of artwork.

You can own a copy of the book, "Francis Bacon," by Matthew Gale, available here from

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