Artlyst spoke to Calvin Winner, Head of Collections at Sainsbury Centre For Visual Arts, and co-curator of the exhibition ‘Francis Bacon and the Masters’, to give us his opinion of Bacon’s process in relation to the artist’s unfinished work ‘Three Figures’ – one of three incomplete paintings that were exhibited in the exhibition.
It was only upon Bacon’s death that light was shed on the true nature of the artist’s practice regarding drawing and sketching. Aside from the extraordinary creative clutter of the artist’s studio at 7 Reece Mews, there were also a number of unfinished paintings. These incomplete works were a revelation, and shed light on the early stages of the artist’s painting process.
The works were in fact all the more revealing in light of Bacon’s penchant of destroying large quantities of unfinished works that he deemed unsuitable to remain within his body of work rather than – in his eyes – have them negatively effect the perception of his oeuvre. The absence of unfinished work had always prevented anything other than fully formed paintings had always prevented study of Bacon’s processes. But now there were unfinished works to be studied and the nature of Bacon’s practice was now seemingly quite obvious.
Calvin Winner also sheds light on the great British painter’s relationship to sculpture, for although Bacon never attempted the use of the medium himself, the artist’s painting was influenced by a number of sculptural factors and sculptors alike; Winner goes on to highlight the artist’s relationship to Picasso, Titian, and Soutine and dicusses crucifixions, and Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece.
Audio: Calvin Winner with Paul Black. Photos, P A Black © Artlyst 2015 – and courtesy of the Sainsbury Centre For Visual Arts – all rights reserved
Francis Bacon And The Masters – Sainsbury Centre For Visual Arts – until 26 July 2015