Leeds Art Gallery

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Painting 1950

Bacon, Francis (1909-1992), 1950, Oil on canvas 198.1 x 132.1

This is probably one of the first in a series in which the artist created images from photographs by Eadweard Muybridge of the human figure in motion - these photographs of walking and running people are taken against a regular grid (for measurement purposes). Bacon has exploited - exaggerated, altered, added to, with intense emotional effect - both the grid and the figure. Its ambiguous placing in space and its surprising shadow (is it another figure ?) gives this painting a mysterious urgency which contrasted with the public optimism of the Festival of Britain, the year in which the painting was bought by the LAF. Its acquisition was controversial and was decided only after a lengthy debate with the members being asked to vote.Ernest Musgrave, Director of the Art Galleries and Secretary to the LAF, was determined to have it even at the large sum of £220, writing:'It reflects the artist's conception of the state of the world, the tension, secretive and latent violence of which we are all conscious'.