Logo pour impression
© ADAGP Paris 2007
Oil on canvas
H. 198.3; W. 147,5 cm
Bequest of Jacqueline Delubac, 1997
Francis Bacon
[Dublin, 1909 - Madrid, 1992]
Study for a Bullfight, no. 2

Already fascinated by the human figure when he became known on the British artistic scene in 1944 with Triptych, Bacon was also interested in "theme" paintings. In 1969, he painted three studies for a bullfight. The theme was perhaps suggested by his friend, the writer Michel Leiris, author of books on bullfighting, or even by Picasso, to whom he often referred in his works. Isolated within a circular shape, the bullfighter and the bull are represented as confronting each other in the bullring. Movement is suggested by a series of curves on the ground and in the air that evoke the turning motion of the beast and the passes of the muleta. Eliminating any trace of storytelling, Bacon provides a "strictly physical" interpretation of the bullfight (Leiris). Although in the painting at Lyon a large flat orange area is structured around a space with an open panel where a crowd can been seen, in another version with a reversed composition, Bacon has closed this panel. Painted in the same shades of brown and mauve, the two figures are inseparable from each other. The artist has deformed the bullfighter's body. By brushing and cleaning the canvas, he has erased the head from the human shape and endowed it with a certain animalism. The red square above the crowd, featuring a circle and surmounted with an object resembling a vulture, has often been compared to a Nazi emblem. It was probably taken from the news photos that Bacon collected and left scattered around the floor of his studio.