“We are born and we die, that’s how it is.” Francis Bacon’s philosophy of life was blunt. “But in between,” he declared, “we give this purposeless existence a meaning by our drives.” Bacon relished and interrogated his drives — his desires and passions, lusts and obsessions — as much in his life as his work. He poured his impetuous talent into both. Little wonder that biographers are riveted.
Within five years of his death at the age of 82 in 1992, three lives had been published, the ground-setting Anatomy of an Enigma by Michael Peppiatt and Daniel Farson’s exultantly gossipy The Gilded Gutter Life among them. Since then can be added the David Sylvester classic The Brutality of Fact, a slew of lesser biographies, memoirs, catalogue essays and scholarly analyses (even his medical records have provided fodder for a book). Bacon is quite possibly the single most written about artist that Britain has produced. Do we need yet another exposition of his life story? Is there anything left for Francis Bacon: Revelations to reveal?