TWISTED INSPIRATION

John Richardson Chronicles Francis Bacon's Sadomasochistic Tendencies

In a forthcoming New York Review of Books essay, art historian John Richardson profiles the late Francis Bacon, offering rich details about the 20th century British painter's love life and sadomasochistic tendencies. Richardson recounts episode after episode of violent passion, such as the time when Bacon's lover, Peter Lacy, threw him through a glass window and he nearly lost an eye. Richardson argues that the "painter's creative impulses were rooted in sexual pain and humiliation." Bacon also allegedly drove George Dyer, another lover, to suicide, and Richardson claims the quality of Bacon's work declined after Dyer's death, when the artist began to engage in a more stable relationship.