Pope 2, 1951, Francis Bacon
In the early 1950s, the proximity to lens-based imagery and its aesthetics is palpable in the candid camera poses and the sombre colour schemes of Bacon’s paintings. They evoke the tonality of contemporary newspaper printing and, in works such as Three Studies from the Human Head, 1953, black and white photography. He feverishly experimented with new subjects and styles, and in 1957 stunned the art world with an explosion of colour, applying vivid shades of red, green, yellow and blue in his variations on Van Gogh’s masterpiece. The free, gestural brushwork in these paintings echoed Bacon’s admiration for both Van Gogh and Chaïm Soutine.