Bacon and Sutherland

ISBN: 9780300107968
Artist(s): Francis Bacon
Author(s): Martin Hammer
Format: hardback
Year published: 2005
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 224 pages
Illustrations: 100 colour and 25 b/w illustrations

Artist(s) Biographies:


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Francis Bacon (1909-1992) and Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) were two of the most compelling and influential of modern British artists. This book is the first to consider their artistic dialogue in depth, offering a rich and subtle analysis of the two artists’ work up to 1950. Martin Hammer’s starting points are the strong stylistic and thematic affinities between their work and the fascinating series of letters that Bacon wrote to Sutherland (transcribed in an appendix). The book’s first section considers the dynamics of the relationship, as well as their intertwined careers. The second explores how their work expressed the experience of living through the Second World War and witnessing revelations concerning the Holocaust and the onset of the Cold War. Drawing on the literary production of the period and journals such as Horizon, Hammer reconstructs Bacon and Sutherland’s shared immersion in the idea of a tragic art, modelled upon the classical dramas of Aeschylus, and their interest in the possibilities of religious imagery, especially the Crucifixion, as a commentary upon present suffering. How, finally, did the work of Bacon and Sutherland reflect an engagement with international modernism, at a time when much English art was narrowly insular and ‘patriotic’? In what ways did their art embody a creative response to Picasso and surrealism, for example, and in Bacon’s case to the post-war School of Paris and the emergence of existentialism? This absorbing and ground-breaking book demonstrates why Sutherland was regarded as the most exciting British painter of the day, and how the early work of Bacon, for all its originality, was rooted in the culture of a specific time and place. Fine copy


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