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Head III, 1949, Francis Bacon

Head III, 1949, Francis Bacon

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One of a series of oil paintings made in 1949 for Bacon's first one-man exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in London. As with the other six paintings in the series, it focuses on the disembodied head of male figure, who looks out with a penetrating gaze, but is fixed against an isolating, flat, nondescript background, while also enfolded by hazy horizontal foreground curtain-like folds which seems to function like a surrounding cage.

Head III was first exhibited in November 1949 at the Hanover in a showing commissioned by Erica Brausen, one of the artist's early champions. Six head paintings were painted during a short period of time, when Bacon was under pressure to provide works for the Hanover exhibition. Of the series, Head I, Head II and Head VI are today seen as artistically successful, with Head VI as ground breaking, and a direct precursor to Bacon's seminal 1950's many representations of Popes. Head III is important in the development in that it is the first of the series in which Bacon masters the effect of the horizontal folds, and the ambiguous facial expression.

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