cover image Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon

Rizzoli, Michel Leiris. Rizzoli International Publications, $24.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0904-2

Bacon's menacing pictures of twisted human torsos, rabid dogs and dismembered men stranded amid carcasses made him a fashionable painter in the 1960s. But what has he been doing in the '80s? As this concise retrospective reveals, the British painter's obsessions and methods have scarcely changed. In his recent pictures, water from a running tap becomes a torrential cyclone; Mick Jagger's face is a cry of despair; a bloodstain on a floor plank suspended in space shocks and outrages; distorted human figures, set against pastel or bright-orange backdrops, perplex. This album combines 155 color reproductions with a perceptive 15-page essay by French ethnographer Leiris who explores Bacon's use of distortions, jazz-like breaks and empty spaces in canvases fraught with good and evil. He aptly compares Bacon's paintings to flash photographs that transform banal details into disturbing presences. (June)