Born in 1909, Francis Bacon’s entire early adulthood was penetrated by the tragedy of the Second World War. Unlike many of his contemporaries in Britain, he did not participate in the war or become a war artist. Rather, he is unique amongst his generation of artists as independently choosing Hitler, Nazi Germany and Fascist propaganda to be one of the most influential sources for his practice. In this new scholarly study, Martin Hammer addresses the question of how and why Bacon appropriated the photographs and documentation of Fascist imagery to his own expressive ends, emphasising how it was used technically in his painting as a visual aid, and how, far from being an artist of private spaces and personal anguish, he in fact found inspiration from mass circulated media and the use of it for the promotion of global ideals. Featuring an extensive selection of colour and black-and-white reproductions of both paintings and source material from Bacon’s own collected archive, Hammer uses focussed visual engagement with Bacon’s work, illuminating the artist’s aims to comment and reflect on the wider contemporary world.
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