Saw an exhibit of Francis Bacon's work at the MET in the summer of 2009. His work is not my favorite by any means but it is great to look at. The best way to describe it is written in the first two sentences of the introduction to Ernst van Alphen's book "Francis Bacon and the Loss of Self:"
"Seeing a work by Francis Bacon hurts. It causes pain."
It is really true. His paintings have a surreal, nightmarish quality, in the sense that they take visually recognizable aspects of real life and then are rendered as monstrous abstractions. Monstrous not necessarily in the literal the definition meaning "ugly," but in the sense that his studies quite literally look like monsters. Even his self-portraits have a dream and ghost-like quality to them.
Actually, I find myself being more inspired by him NOW than I did when I saw the paintings live. Perhaps I needed time to appreciate them, or, more likely, I am more comfortable looking at them in the scale of book pages, rather than large and disturbing on a gallery wall.
View the past exhibit page from the MET HERE.
More Francis Bacon links:
Three Studies for Figures at the Bast of a Crucifixion, 1944
Study for Portrait III (After the Life Mask of William Blake), 1955
Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962 (detail)
Three Studies for Self-Portrait, 1979
Pope Innocent X, 1650, by Spanish Painter Diego Velazquez
Francis Bacon's Study After Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1953