Francis Bacon loved books. The many volumes in his library are evidence of his deep engagement with literature. Bacon’s condensed statements in paint often seem to echo telling phrases from the literature that he admired – among his favourite authors were Aeschylus, T. S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Leiris and Georges Bataille. Occasionally the titles of his paintings acknowledge a literary source; however, Bacon consistently and vigorously resisted over-interpretation: his images take flight from their original literary source, owing more to a poetic visual or conceptual universe.
Brought together here are five thought-provoking texts on Bacon’s relationship with literature, a chronology of his life, and an inventory of the books found on Bacon’s shelves after his death. Sixty of Bacon’s paintings, including twelve triptychs presented across gatefolds, are reproduced with excerpts from the writings of the authors who inspired him.