Hues and cries

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This chapter examines the use of colour in Francis Bacon&#8217;s paintings, focusing particularly on <i>Head VI</i> (1949) and the neglected <i>Triptych</i> (1977). The chapter will demonstrate how Julia Kristeva&#8217;s ideas about colour and language, developed in the context of Early Renaissance art, are equally applicable to Bacon&#8217;s paintings. They provide a valuable explanation for the artist&#8217;s rich palette and his often unusual techniques. Kristeva&#8217;s ideas also reveal how Bacon&#8217;s chromatics can be understood to trigger memories of the early stages of psychic life. The chapter concludes by suggesting that Bacon&#8217;s approach to colour should be understood as contributing to the expression of a sexuality for which no pre-existing visual rhetoric was available.


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