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Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma Paperback – 11 Sep 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (11 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845297318
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845297312
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 284,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Brilliantly and evocatively written. (Antonia Fraser Daily Mail)

[Peppiatt's] account of the evolution of Bacon's artistic ideas is confident, amusing and thought-provoking. (Richard Davenport-Hines The Independent)

This account of a life, as Peppiatt puts it, "filled with the extremes of human emotion and devoted to expressing them with utmost force," is probably more readable and enjoyable than the attempts at exhaustive biography which surely lie ahead. (Gilbert De Botton, Literary Review)

Anatomy of an Engima will surely remain a uniquely authoritative and readable account of the man who once confided, 'it may sound pretentious but you see I have had the most extraordinary life'. (Literary Review)

One of the most important and insightful writings on the artist (Art Newspaper)

Book Description

The definitive biography of Francis Bacon, re-issued with substantial new material to co-incide with a major retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating study of the great man and his work. Peppiatt knew Bacon from the 60's onwards, thus the biography feels intimate and true to life and is successful in depicting the flamboyance, complexity and sheer charisma of this important British artist.

Bacon's father is depicted as a key figure, as well as a leitmotif of brutal masculinity in Bacon's paintings. A tyrannical, martial man, (according to Peppiatt, he has his teenage son horsewhipped by his grooms in order to `make him more of a man') he is the very antithesis of the highly intelligent, young, unconventional Bacon. This early encounter with such brutality goes some way to explaining the power and masculine energy so apparent in Bacon's paintings, as well as the sado-masochistic and destructive nature of his sexual relationships.

Peppiatt describes Bacon's influences - Picasso's biomorhic figures as well as his 'Crucifixion', the photographic images of Edweard Muybridge, Velasquez's 'Pope Innocent X', which inspired the 'Screaming Pope' series.

Bacon's days spent as `bon viveur', drinking vast quantities of alcohol at the Colony in Soho, with the cliquey, languorous dry wit of camp proprietress, Muriel Belcher is captured wonderfully ("Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends!", as Bacon once declared), as well as his slightly alarming brush with the Kray twins (who fascinated him), and his doomed relationship with his tragic muse, George Dyer.

All in all this is an immensely enjoyable read as well as providing a real insight into the artist and his work.
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By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This "revised and updated" edition of Michael Peppiatt's
1996 biography of the painter Francis Bacon is a marvelous
read. Mr Bacon was well-known for the transitory, volatile
and extremely unpredictable nature of his attachments but
Mr Peppiatt has come closer than most in giving us an insight
into the life, mind and work of one of the greatest artists
of the last century. (Daniel Farson's 1993 portrait 'The Gilded
Gutter Life Of Francis Bacon' is an equally important study).

Mr Peppiatt dares to go where many have tried and failed in
making connections between Mr Bacon's knowingly slippery and
highly changeable accounts of his own history and his astonishing
creative legacy. Sifting through the fragments of his life
(a procedure not unlike the quasi-archaeological reconstruction
of Mr Bacon's Reece Mews studio in the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin)
the author offers up invaluable material which casts new light on
the elusive workings of the artist's highly complex emotional and
aesthetic sensibilities. Although he was infamously stubborn in
allowing a narrative reading of his paintings, wanting instead to :
"open up the valves of feeling" (such a wonderful notion!!) his many
conversations with Mr Peppiatt from 1963 until his death in 1992 allow
for a fuller and in some ways more humane understanding of his work.

The paintings will stand the test of time. Although he had his
detractors (not that their views troubled him particularly - his
magnificently arch beligerance was both his sword and his shield!)
Mr Bacon emerges from these pages with his resplendent vitality
and appetite for the glorious futility of existence fully intact!
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Francis Bacon, self-taught artist, somehow rose from utter obscurity to become one the greatest icons of art in the late twentieth century. His meteoric rise, coupled with the extraordinary carnality and brutality of his art, with its screaming popes and anguished, quasi demoniacal, portraits, marks him out as strange and different to any artist that went before him - even considering Goya and his monsters. Congratulations to Mr Peppiatt for exploring and explaining some of the demons and driving forces behind the art, and artist. This must be one of the most intimate, revealing and authoritative biographies of any artist, taking the reader into Bacon's inner circle, and privy to his closest thoughts, both personal and creative.

All I can say is well done. I was held spellbound throughout. I made copious notes and will read the book again.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great biography on Bacon, have no doubt. Packed with research and memories from someone who actually knew him. Starting with the author retracing his steps to Bacon's former studio in Reece Mews, to a conversation with the nurse who witnessed Bacon's final moments. The story is here to read in full, including some excellent notes. Whereas this book is heavy on facts, I recommend Daniel Farson's book on Bacon for a more intimate memoir. The book is strong on content but somehow I personally feel it could have been pushed further. So with this in mind I would rate this a strong three out of five stars. If you love Bacon, still buy this book!
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Format: Paperback
Peppiatt's indepth knowledge and presentation made this book an absolute joy to read. Going farther and deeper than Farson with complete excavation of and endearment for Bacon.A great character, the book a sheer delight.
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