Francis Bacon: Man and Beast

Francis Bacon left an indelible mark on art history by pushing the boundaries of figurative painting, pioneering a unique form of visceral and emotionally charged expressionism. The exhibition ‘Francis Bacon: Man and Beast’ at the Royal Academy of Arts (29 January - 17 April 2022), explored Bacon’s blurring of the lines between humans and animals.

The design of the exhibition sought to magnify the emotional resonance of Bacon's work. Enveloping visitors in the intense and rich colours that define his canvases, and creating an immersive viewing experience.

The exhibition focussed on Bacon’s unerring fascination with animals: how it both shaped his approach to the human body and distorted it; how, caught at the most extreme moments of existence, his figures are barely recognisable as either human or beast.

It also explored how Bacon was mesmerised by animal movement, observing animals in the wild during trips to South Africa; filling his studio with wildlife books, and constantly referring to Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th-century photographs of humans and animals in motion. Whether chimpanzees, bulls, dogs, or birds of prey, Bacon felt he could get closer to understanding the true nature of humankind by watching the uninhibited behaviour of animals.

Spanning five decades of Bacon's remarkable career, the exhibition showcased early masterpieces alongside his last ever painting, and a trio of bullfight paintings which were exhibited together for the first time.


Royal Academy of Arts