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Francis Bacon: “I’m always labelled with horror”

Published 5 April 2022

Listen to Francis Bacon talk about how he paints and how his images form.

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    “I work as near to my instinct as I possibly can. It’s all I can do.”

    Listen to an excerpt from a series of conversations, titled The Dead Elephant Interviews, that Bacon had with his close friend, the American artist Peter Beard, in 1972.

    The pair formed a close bond over their shared creative interests, including their fascination with animals, with both men often becoming the subject of the other’s work.

    Read more about Bacon and Beard’s friendship and how animals influenced their work.

    The image shown is a collage from an artwork by Peter Beard including photographs taken by Beard inside Bacon’s studio.

    • 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.