The artists Francis Bacon and Peter Beard first met in 1967, at a show of Bacon’s work in London. They became closer in the early 70s, and despite living on opposite sides of the Atlantic their friendship endured. Known for his heroic good looks, Beard became Bacon’s muse—a beautiful man he loved, according to The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones, but could never have. The two shared a passion for animals, and both had an unblinking ability to face darkness. Notably, 200 photographs of dead elephants were found in Bacon’s studio after his death in 1992, gifts from Beard that sparked his imagination. “Wild Life,” the first exploration of this surprising friendship, traces the pair’s mutual inspiration and admiration through paintings, letters, photographs, and diaries. —E.C.
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