1944 was the most devastating year in WWII. It was in that year that Francis Bacon painted a frightening triptych populated with anthropomorphic figures twisting in anguish. Entitled Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944), the painting laid the groundwork for another magistral piece to come. Religious motifs are an inexhaustible metaphor for Bacon. In 1962, he imagined Three Studies for a Crucifixion as a triptych that would contrast with great works of religious art. The three panels are independent. The scenes don’t tell a particular story – only the color ties them together: an intense red-orange that’s both simple and uniform. Francis Bacon finished this work ahead of his first retrospective at the Tate Britain in London – for him, the crucifixion was “a magnificent frame on which you can hang all types of sensations and sensations.”
“What I like to do most is triptychs, and I think that’s perhaps tied to my desire to be in a film that I sometimes entertained. The juxtaposition of images divided onto three different canvases interests me. Provided that you consider my work to be quality, I would generally have the idea that it’s perhaps the triptychs that are the most important,” he would affirm in 1979. This three-painting work of art takes on the composition of traditional scenes from Christian art on the right. On the left, two men can be found in a butcher shop surrounded by chunks of meat. In the center is where the painter’s message shines through the most: a bed, where a body convulses in agony.
Spread out over 198.1 x 144.8 cm each, today the splendor of this iconic work is on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. This painting would cause Gilles Deleuze to say that there was no hysteria for the painter per se, but for the painting. “The painting is hysteria. Hysteria is converted since it allows you to see the presence directly. With the colors and the lines it involves the eye. But the eye isn’t treated as a fixed organ.” He then adds: “By freeing the lines and colors from the representation, it at the same time frees the eye from its belonging to the organism… This is Bacon and his exceptional characteristic.”