Francis Bacon – Invisible Rooms at Tate Liverpool, preview: Ordered chaos

Nichola Jacques

Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms presents a new angle on the work of the Irish-born British artist widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of the 20th century.

 A new exhibition at Tate Liverpool will address previously unexamined spatial constructions within the work of leading figurative painter Francis Bacon. This constitutes the largest dedicated show of the artist’s work ever to appear in the North.

Organised in collaboration with Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the exhibition will bring together around 30 large-scale paintings and works on paper, united by the geometric shapes that appear within them. Barely decipherable, these structures give the appearance of ‘invisible rooms’ within Bacon’s compositions. They serve to delineate and heighten the psychological state of the figures that appear in them.

This constitutes the largest dedicated show of the artist’s work ever to appear in the North

The artist began to experiment with the use of these subtle cubic and elliptical forms from the 1930s onwards and they would appear in his paintings for decades to follow. They are apparent in some of his best known works including Crucifixion (1933) and Man in Blue IV (1954) but, to date, no exhibition has explored this facet of the artist’s practice to any great extent.

Lauren Barnes (Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool) describes how visitors to the exhibition will be able to explore some of the materials found in Bacon’s studio in order to “help shed light on the complex processes that lay behind the paintings”.

She explains how audiences will be able to see “rarely seen drawings by Bacon, overpainted photographs, and exhibition catalogues for Soutine and Velazquez exhibitions that he sketched in; all of which demonstrate the preparatory work Bacon did before creating his iconic works that feature his architectural motifs.”

Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms will be shown alongside an exhibition of the work of the Austrian painter Maria Lassnig as part of Tate Liverpool’s summer 2016 season.

Image credits:

1. Francis Bacon, From Muybridge ‘The human Figure in Motion: Woman Emptying a Bowl of Water…1965. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2016. Francis Bacon, Three Figures and Portrait 1975 © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2016. Image courtesy Tate. 

2. Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait on Folding Bed 1963 © Estate of Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon, Study for the Nurse from the Battleship Potemkin 1957 courtesy Estate of Francis Bacon. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2016. © Städel Museum – U. Edelmann – ARTOTHEK.

3. Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait 1952 ©  The Estate of Francis Bacon.

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