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Inside ‘Francis Bacon: Man and Beast’ with co-curator, Michael Peppiatt

Published 2 March 2022

We spoke to Francis Bacon’s friend, Michael Peppiatt, about the exhibition ‘Man and Beast’ and how Bacon’s vision of humanity was shaped by his interest in animals.

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    Many of us know Bacon for his portraits of friends and lovers, but he was also mesmerised by animals and painted them throughout his life.

    As a child, he grew up surrounded by horses and dogs, and as an adult he observed animals in the wild during trips to South Africa.

    Writer Michael Peppiatt – a friend of Bacon and co-curator of Man and Beast – discusses the ideas at play in the exhibition.

    • Francis Bacon, Second Version of Triptych 1944 (detail)

      Visit our five-star exhibition: 'Francis Bacon: Man and Beast'

      Man and Beast explores how Bacon was mesmerised by animal movement, observing animals in the wild during trips to southern Africa; filling his studio with wildlife books, and constantly referring to Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th-century photographs of humans and animals in motion.

      Spanning Bacon’s 50-year career, highlights include some of Bacon’s earliest works and his last-ever painting, alongside a trio of bullfight paintings which are being exhibited together for the first time.