Francis Bacon: The Beauty of Meat

3.22 – 7.28.2024

The Irish-born painter Francis Bacon (1909–1992) was one of the most extraordinary artists of the 20th century, and this is the first solo exhibition in Brazil devoted to his work. By creating a set of paintings as radical as they are breathtaking, the artist reinvented the way the human figure was painted. For over six decades, Bacon portrayed friends from London’s bohemian and cultural life, anonymous figures he met in bars, and his own lovers, notably Peter Lacy and George Dyer, with whom he maintained intense and often turbulent relationships. Although his work should not be considered strictly autobiographical, it is loaded with traces of his personal experiences, his desires and relationships.

Bacon’s production accompanied significant changes in the British social context, in which same-sex sexual acts were illegal until 1967. His work was also marked by a certain ambiguity between excitement and violence. Particularly in his paintings from the 1950s onwards, the presence of erotic elements and homosexual relationships gradually became more evident. His interest in and desire for the male body is distinguished by his unique way of bringing vigor to carnality. 

Francis Bacon: The Beauty of the Meat presents a pioneering queer focus on the artist’s work, with 23 paintings produced from 1947 to 1988. Although this framework is recurrent in literature and unavoidable in any project devoted to the artist, this is the first time that it is indeed the primary reference in an exhibition.

The subtitle of the show comes from a statement by the artist (reproduced on the wall of the first room) given in an interview with the art critic David Sylvester in 1966, in which Bacon expresses his admiration for the striking beauty of pieces of meat hanging in a butcher’s shop. Bacon’s words point to certain powerful dualities that emerge in his work: beauty and horror, life and death, seduction and destruction, painting and the body in flesh and blood. 

Francis Bacon: The Beauty of Meat
Curated by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director, MASP; Laura Cosendey, assistant curator, MASP and assistance from Isabela Ferreira Loures, curatorial assistant, MASP.

In 2024, all of MASP's temporary exhibitions have accessibility features, with free admission for people with disabilities and their companions. Visits are available in Brazilian Sign Language (Libras) or descriptive; texts and subtitles in enlarged font and audiovisual productions in easy language, with narration, subtitling and interpretation in Libras that describe and comment on the spaces and works. The content can be used by people with disabilities, school groups, teachers, illiterate people and other interested parties. The content is available on the museum's website and YouTube channel.