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Curiously, it takes a long look at the impact on Bacon of a work he never in fact saw in the flesh, and one that it was impossible for the Guggenheim to acquire Velazquezs 1650 Portrait of Pope Innocent X.
The image is said to have obsessed Bacon throughout his career, so much so that given the chance to see it in real life in Rome, he refused, instead choosing to savour it as he remembered so vividly from reproductions.
The exhibition intersperses a huge and impressive series of works by Bacon alongside works that impacted him and his career, beginning with Picasso.
In Bacons words, he was the artist who opened the door to all these systems.
Yet its joyful and life affirming to see the vibrant hues of late works, as shown in the final room, Life Essence; where bright swathes of colour backdrop disfigured objects and bodies.After its sale, the government put a temporary export ban on it in the hope a domestic buyer would match the sum to keep it in the UK.The statue, taken from the tomb of Sekhemka, the pharaohs inspector of scribes in Saqqara, had been donated to the museum in 1880 by the son of the second Marquess of Northampton who had brought it from Egypt.When I was younger the anguish and fervent, incomprehensible levels of emotion made me turn away from it, as though it was too much to bear.It didnt seem overwhelming at first; I just thought it wasnt for me, until new ways of understanding gradually began to reveal themselves.
The painting, which depicts a screaming mouth and the eyeless face of a sub-human creature, is the multimillion pound superstar of the boroughs art collection.