Francis Bacon, from Tormented to Mellow, in Houston

In Memory of George Dyer, 1971, by Francis Bacon. Oil and transfer letters on canvas. (Foundation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Beyeler Collection. © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. / DACS, London / ARS, NY 2019)
The Museum of Fine Arts mounts a splendid show of the well-known but ever-mysterious Irish artist.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he Houston Museum of Fine Arts’ new blockbuster is Francis Bacon: Late Paintings, which opened at the end of February. Organized by the MFA and the Pompidou Center in Paris, it looks at Bacon, an icon and an enigma, from the early 1970s to his death in 1992. Bacon was a nervy, sulfuric, irascible artist. Did his core traits intensify as he aged, dissolving features that once smoothed the rough edges? That’s what happens to most old people. Or did this angry, turbulent atheist mellow?

The exhibition is a grand one, and it looks perfect in the MFA’s Mies van der

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