Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence

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Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence


“In the wilderness of postwar art he is the towering giant,” wrote Brian Sewell in Radio Times back in 1984, taking fellow art critics and the public to task for “seeing only violence and ugliness” and perhaps missing the “astonishing mastery” in Francis Bacon’s body of work. And, in 1971, Bacon himself told RT that he favoured the word “immediacy” over “violence” to describe the “powerful presence of living creatures” in his often disturbing paintings.

This film (first shown last January) strips back the layers of his public image, what’s described as “a carefully cultivated façade”, to expose the complex man behind the myth and the issues that haunted him.

Among contributions from art historians, we hear from Marianne Faithfull, Terence Stamp, artists Maggi Hambling and Damien Hirst – some of Bacon’s intimate circle talking about him openly for the first time.


Documentary exploring just how much of Francis Bacon's notoriety as a rude, drunken loudmouth was a carefully curated front he maintained to protect the complex and haunted man behind his own myth. Making use of interviews with celebrity commentators, fellow artists, and some of the people who knew him best, this programme sets out to deconstruct the perceived and hidden identities of the man known as one of the most sought-after British artists of the 20th century.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Michael Peppiatt
Contributor Annalyn Swan
Contributor Mark Stevens
Contributor John Ricardson
Contributor Garech Browne
Contributor Maggi Hambling
Contributor Damien Hirst
Contributor Grey Gowrie
Contributor Martin Harrison
Contributor Jon Lys Turner
Contributor Terry Danziger-Miles
Contributor Terence Stamp
Contributor Marianne Faithfull
Contributor Dr Paul Brass
Contributor Barry Joule
Contributor David Edwards
Director Richard Curson Smith
Executive Producer Mary Bell
Executive Producer Franny Moyle
Producer Richard Curson Smith
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