Controversial in both life and art, Francis Bacon was one of the most important painters of the 20th century. His monumental, unsettling images have an extraordinary power to disturb, shock and haunt the spectator, `to unlock the valves of feeling and therefore return the onlooker to life more violently'.
Drawing on his personal knowledge of Bacon's inspirations, intentions and working methods, David Sylvester surveys the development of the work from 1933 to the early 1990s, and discusses critically a number of its crucial aspects.
He also reproduces previously unpublished extracts from his celebrated conversations with Bacon in which the artist speaks about himself, modern painters and the art of the past. Finally, Sylvester gives a brief account of Bacon's life, correcting certain errors that elsewhere have been presented as facts.
Divided into the sections `Review', `Reflections', `Fragments of Talk' and `Biographical Note', Looking Back on Francis Bacon is a unique portrait of one of the creative geniuses of our age by a writer of comparable distinction.
David Sylvester CBE (1924-2001) was a prominent writer, art critic and curator, and a leading authority on Rene Magritte, Henry Moore and, in particular, Francis Bacon. He first wrote about Bacon's work in the late 1940s, and the pair soon became close friends. Over the next forty years, he was Bacon's Boswell, interpreter, confidant, occasional model and briefly agent. He curated or co-curated numerous major exhibitions at museums around the world, including one-man shows of Picasso, Miro, Magritte, Moore, Giacometti and Bacon. His published books include Interviews with Francis Bacon and the five-volume Magritte catalogue raisonne.