The body and soul of the deceased are lost forever but the memory remains, threatened by oblivion. A triptych preserved at the Tate Gallery shows the man amputated of various organs before his collapse on the central panel.
On October 4 in London, Christie's sells Figure in Movement, oil on canvas 198 x 148 cm painted in 1972, lot 7 estimated £ 15M.
George is seen from behind, nude, without amputation, standing contorted on the tip of a foot. The title is ambiguous : by nature a dead does not move. A cheek is pressed against a newspaper illustrated by Letraset that he does not look at, as if he was desperately trying to stay in a present that no longer concerns him.
The overall composition seems simple but it is actually populated with symbols, easier to describe than to interpret.
The empty room can be the studio of a photographer : the character is enclosed in a filiform cage, as for the staging of an ephemeral moment or for the preview of a framing. This idea had already been used by the artist, for example in the three images of the triptych portrait of Lucian Freud in 1969.
The present is actually impossible to capture. On the floor next to the cage, a page of the same newspaper is shredded.
The body is illuminated from above, casting a black shadow on the ground. In other artworks like the Study for Portrait painted in 1977, the shadow takes on the recognizable silhouette of Francis Bacon himself. The artist is thus associated in a dematerialized form with the deceased.
The painting is executed in a very thick impasto, almost a sculpture. By kneading his pigments, Bacon offers his only method to create something that is akin to life : his art.
SOLD for £ 20M including premium