Oedipus and the Sphinx After Ingres (1983) by Francis Bacon

Oedipus and the Sphinx After Ingres - Francis Bacon - 1983

Artwork Information

TitleOedipus and the Sphinx After Ingres
ArtistFrancis Bacon
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions198 x 147 cm
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationPrivate collection

About Oedipus and the Sphinx After Ingres

The artwork titled “Oedipus and the Sphinx After Ingres” was created by the artist Francis Bacon in 1983. This oil on canvas reflects the influences of Expressionism and belongs to the genre of mythological painting. It measures 198 cm in height and 147 cm in width. Currently, the artwork is held in a private collection.

The artwork presents an abstraction of the classical theme of Oedipus and the Sphinx, reinterpreted through the lens of Bacon’s distinctive style. It features a central figure in a contorted pose, possibly representative of Oedipus, given the work’s title. This figure seems to be wrestling or interacting with a form that is less discernible, likely an abstract representation of the Sphinx. Bacon is known for his expressive, often grotesque distortions of the human form, and this work is emblematic of his approach to figuration.

The color palette is dominated by hues of pink and flesh tones, with accents of black and highlights that suggest metallic textures. The background and surrounding architectural elements are sparse, bringing a sense of isolation to the central figure. The composition favors geometrical shapes and planes, creating an almost surreal spatial relationship between elements.

The painting can be seen as a dialogue between history and modernity, Bacon’s reinterpretation of Ingres’ neoclassical iconography with an existential, tortured twist, reflective of his own pessimistic view of humanity. Bacon’s work often grapples with themes of death, violence, and the human condition, making this work a powerful psychological study as much as it is a mythological narrative. Through the fragmentation of form and a dramatic use of color and shadow, Bacon instills in the viewer a deep sense of emotional and psychological intensity.

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