After Muybridge

Francis Bacon
After Muybridge--Study of the Human Figure in Motion
Woman emptying a Bowl of Water and Paralytic Child on All Fours
Oil on canvas, 198 x 147.5 cm.
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Perhaps in line with the lively atmosphere of London, in the sixties, Bacon’s compositions became more daring than before. He began to use areas of flat, high-key colour to frame and isolate his figures, and painted portraits on a smaller scale. These portraits are among his most adventurous works, conveying a distinct likeness with thick twists of paint which seem to consist of only a few wild strokes and turns of the brush.

This painting, which brings together a woman with a bowl of water and a paralytic child on all fours, acknowledges the groundbreaking photographs of Eadweard Muybridge in its title. When Bacon considered turning his hand to sculpture, this was one of the works that he thought could form the basis for a three-dimensional object. He proposed constructing the railing in the image and setting both of the figures on tracks so that they could be moved along it.

The image reflects the motion that Muybridge studied in his photographs. Here the woman’s body seems to capture not one moment in the movement but the entire gesture (AG NSW).

Paralytic Child on All Fours (after Muybridge), 1961
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague

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