A commanding figure of the postwar period, Francis Bacon's canvases remain unmistakable for their twisted emotion and visceral physicality. “I would like my pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail leaving its trail of the human presence... as a snail leaves its slime,” he once said.
His key motifs include contorted heads, tussling homosexual lovers, and flanks of meat, and his works are characterised by their flat backgrounds and sense of motion, derived from the frequent use of photography and film stills as sources for portraiture.
Mostly self-taught, Bacon nonetheless drew influence from an impossibly wide range of artists, from Vincent van Gogh, Eadweard Muybridge, and filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, to Rembrandt, Masaccio, Titian, and especially Diego Velázquez, making explicit visual references to many of their works in his paintings. His lasting influence can be seen in particular among Young British Artists such as Damien Hirst, Jenny Saville, and Jake and Dinos Chapman.