Golf Grips and Swastikas

William Feaver

  • Francis Bacon: Incunabula edited by Martin Harrison and Rebecca Daniels
    Thames and Hudson, 224 pp, £39.95, September 2008, ISBN 978 0 500 09344 3

Francis Bacon liked to rail against illustration. ‘If you know how to record it you illustrate it,’ he’d cry. As for ‘illustrational paint’, ughh – the thought of that would set the jowls shuddering. ‘Illustration’ wasn’t just to be despised on its own account, it was a word to be smeared across whatever he chose to disparage, not least the work of former friends and rival contemporaries. When David Sylvester once asked what precisely was so deplorable about it (a ‘kind of caution’ perhaps?), Bacon’s response was studiedly offhand. ‘Well,’ he drawled, clearing his throat. ‘Well . . . Illustration surely means just illustrating the image before you, not inventing it.’

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