Francis Bacon: The First Pope
This book was published on the occasion of Francis Bacon: The First Pope at Gagosian, Davies Street, London. The exhibition presented Bacon’s painting ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ (c. 1946) for the first time publicly. The painting is the artist’s first treatment of the papal image, a subject that would preoccupy him on and off for at least two decades. ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ entered a private collection in 1967 and was only rediscovered during the compilation of Bacon’s catalogue raisonné by Martin Harrison, which was published in 2016.
In addition to detailed reproductions of the painting, the publication features new essays by Richard Calvocoressi and Michael Cary. Calvocoressi provides historical context and explores the themes and sources for the picture, while Cary looks at how Bacon’s work influenced and resonated with contemporary artists and their work, from Andy Warhol to Damien Hirst.
It also includes an extract of a text by Dawn Ades, published in the catalogue accompanying Bacon’s 1985 retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London, which analyzes animalistic and human behaviors and examines Bacon’s long-standing fascination with the wide-open mouth that can be seen in ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator.’