New York

Francis Bacon

Tony Shafrazi Gallery

“In old age,” psychoanalyst Anthony Storr wrote, “there is a tendency to turn from empathy toward abstraction; to be less involved in life’s dramas, more concerned with life’s patterns.” This is certainly the case in Francis Bacon’s Triptych, 1991—one of the most astonishing paintings in the recent exhibition of paintings from the artist’s estate—in which the painter subdues the drama of his lifelong themes while at the same time showing their basic character. Among the last paintings Bacon made, the quasi-religious work distills his art and attitude in a way appropriate to the solitude of old age.

Triptych is in effect a crucifixion (a favorite theme of the artist’s): two figures nailing each other to the cross of sexuality, flanked on either side by good and bad thieves. In the center, one of Bacon’s familiar wrestling male couples in turbulent Muybridgean motion symbiotically merge. The

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