Tucked away on the old Church of Satan website, there is a list called “Satanic Art 101.” This series explores one artist from that list, in this case Francis Bacon. All the old Church has to say is
Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
Screaming popes, perverse eroticism, and a raw, undefiled aesthestic that demonstrates that the beast in man does get some exercise from time to time.
Or, as Wikipedia says:
Francis Bacon (28 October 1909 – 28 April 1992) was an Irish-born British figurative painter known for his bold, grotesque, emotionally charged and raw imagery. Bacon was a bon vivant and gambler who took up painting in his early 20s but worked sporadically and uncertainly until his mid-30s. He drifted as an interior decorator in his 20s and 30s; he admitted that his artistic career was delayed because he spent too long looking for subject matter that could sustain his interest. His breakthrough came with the 1944 triptych Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, which in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, sealed his reputation as a uniquely bleak chronicler of the human condition. His abstracted figures are typically isolated geometrical spaces, set against flat, nondescript backgrounds.
Bacon said that he saw images “in series”, and his work typically focused on a single subject or format for sustained periods, often in triptych or diptych formats. His output can be broadly described as sequences or variations on a single motif; beginning with the 1930s Picasso-informed Furies, moving on to the 1940s male heads isolated in rooms or geometric structures, the 1950s screaming popes, and the mid-to-late 1950s animals and lone figures, the warm 1960s portraits of friends, the intimate but pessimistic 1970s self-portraits, and the cooler more technical 1980s late works. These were followed by his early 1960s variations on crucifixion scenes. From the mid-1960s he mainly produced portraits of friends and drinking companions, either as single or triptych panels. Following the 1971 suicide of his lover George Dyer, his art became more sombre, inward-looking and preoccupied with the passage of time and death. The climax of this later period is marked by masterpieces, including his 1982’s “Study for Self-Portrait” and Study for a Self-Portrait—Triptych, 1985–86.
Despite his bleak existentialist outlook, solidified in the public mind through his articulate and vivid series of interviews with David Sylvester, Bacon in person was highly engaging and charismatic, articulate, well-read and unapologetically gay. He was a prolific artist, but nonetheless spent many of the evenings of his middle age eating, drinking and gambling in London’s Soho with like-minded friends such as Lucian Freud (though the two fell out in the 1950s, for reasons neither ever explained), John Deakin, Muriel Belcher, Henrietta Moraes, Daniel Farson and Jeffrey Bernard.
After Dyer’s suicide he largely distanced himself from this circle, and while his social life was still active and his passion for gambling and drinking continued, he settled into a platonic and somewhat fatherly relationship with his eventual heir, John Edwards. The art critic Robert Hughes described him as “the most implacable, lyric artist in late 20th-century England, perhaps in all the world” and along with Willem de Kooning as “the most important painter of the disquieting human figure in the 50’s of the 20th century.” Francis Bacon was the subject of two Tate retrospectives and a major showing in 1971 at the Grand Palais. Since his death his reputation and market value have grown steadily, and his work is amongst the most acclaimed, expensive and sought-after. In the late 1990s a number of major works, previously assumed destroyed, including early 1950s popes and 1960s portraits, reemerged to set record prices at auction. In 2013 his Three Studies of Lucian Freud set the world record as the most expensive piece of art sold at auction.
Or, if you prefer video: