Bacon retrospective opens at Madrid's El Prado

Mon Feb 2, 2009 1:32pm EST
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MADRID (Reuters Life!) - One of the most complete retrospective exhibitions of work by Francis Bacon opens on Tuesday at Madrid's El Prado museum, home to many classical paintings which inspired the Dublin-born artist.

The exhibition includes works from London's Tate gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York by Bacon, widely recognized as one of the 20th-century's most powerful painters.

One of the most famous works on show will be Bacon's study of a portrait of Pope Innocent X by 17th-century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez, many of whose paintings are on permanent display in the Prado.

An online catalog from the Tate notes that Bacon only knew the Velazquez original from illustrations when he painted his study in 1953, one of a series of variants he authored.

"He used this source to expose the insecurities of the powerful -- represented most often in the scream of the caged figure," the catalog says.

Although an atheist, Bacon painted many religious figures and his work also hangs in the Vatican Museum in Rome, which is owned by the Roman Catholic church.

The study is one of 62 of Bacon's works painted between 1933 and 1988 that will be on display with other exhibits in 11 sections at the Museum until April 19.

The exhibition will then move on to New York's Metropolitan between May 18 and August 16.

Bacon's life was the subject of the 1998 film "Love is the devil," with veteran British actor Derek Jacobi in the lead and Daniel Craig -- now known for playing James Bond -- in the supporting role.

For more details of the exhibition, click on: here

(Reporting by Martin Roberts; Editing by Charles Dick)

<p>A man stands close to the painting "Study for Portrait II (after the Life Mask of william Blake)" by Irish-born artist Francis Bacon during the media presentation of a Francis Bacon retrospective exhibit in Madrid January 30, 2009. REUTERS/Susana Vera</p>