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Francis Bacon Reviews

Francis Bacon by Mark Stevens, Annalyn Swan

Francis Bacon: Revelations

Mark Stevens, Annalyn Swan

4.44 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: William Collins
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 6 Jan 2021
ISBN: 9780007298419

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of de Kooning: An American Master, a revelatory and intimate new biography of Francis Bacon.

  • The GuardianBook of the Week
5 stars out of 5
Rachel Cooke
17 Jan 2021

"a captivating triumph"

How judicious they are, how determined to rub away at their subject’s corners. Until now, the best books about Bacon have been the work of his friends (Michael Peppiatt, Daniel Farson, David Sylvester): volumes that, however interesting, are muddied with affection (or its reverse), vested interests and, perhaps, a certain complacency. This volume, though, is the opposite. It rings as clearly as a bell. I cannot remember the last time I was so aware of the sheer hard labour involved in biography, even as I was captivated by every line. (They slogged, so I didn’t have to.)


4 stars out of 5

"what must surely be the definitive life of Francis Bacon"

The recounting of riveting anecdotes is easy. Where this biography soars above rivals is where its authors, even while acknowledging the crafted performance, probe beneath the façade. Newcomers can meet the celebrated public figure: dramatic, queeny and confident, charming, generous and funny, fiercely unsentimental and fantastically talented. But celebrity, the authors write, “was a light that, concealing more than it revealed, enabled him to slip in and out of his persona. It certainly did not displace any masks that he wanted kept in place.”

4 stars out of 5
Michael Prodger
10 Jan 2021

"A new biography of the artist is both comprehensive and compelling"

The American art critics Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan have compiled a weighty, thorough and compelling biography of the artist that records nine decades of intense moments. Bacon, especially as the wild man of Soho, has been thoroughly mythologised, but this authorised life brings the carousing, the paintings and the public and private lives together to form a convincing and often touching whole. The book’s daunting size is not authorial indulgence — though they write with documentary diligence — but a reflection of how rich Bacon’s life was.