Paint as Flesh

From the 1950s onwards, the concepts of realism began to dissolve. Now the focus was on the examination of the model, the materiality of the human body and the expressive use of color. The smooth surface and meticulously precise rendering of the body, characteristics of interwar realism, gave way to an expressive treatment of color as such. The texture and inherent weight of the impasto application of paint gained an independent reality during this period and at the same time referred to the material quality of the flesh. 

Despite the title, the figure in this painting was evidently originally conceived as a man, whose genitals were only scantily covered with a thin layer of paint. The densely worked modeling betrays a certain uncertainty in its halting, non-fluid style, which is reinforced by the fact that Francis Bacon cut the figure out of its original canvas and pasted it onto the current support on which the background was painted. The contrast between the surfaces is strongly emphasized: while the figure is characterized by an impasto application of paint, the background consists of a flat, thin layer of paint. The artist emphasized the dividing line between the two with a striking outline, which he painted on the new canvas around the cut edge.