A Man Without Illusions

The startling, intense images produced by Francis Bacon provoked many reactions during his lifetime. These ranged from simplistic psychological approaches to appreciation of his manipulation of pigment, which Bacon always put down to intuition and luck, but critic David Sylvester believed to have links to the 'country house' portraits of England's past.

Richard Cork explores these and other theories in his discussions with art critics and with Bacon himself to discover the truth behind this 'man without illusions'. Richard Cork and David Sylvester here discuss Bacon's use of a swastika as a possible pictorial device, referring to Bacon's 1965 painting entitled 'Crucifixion'. The left panel of this triptych contains a figure wearing an armband emblazoned with a swastika.

↗ Originally broadcast 16 May 1985

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