Book Review: Interviews with Francis Bacon


Interviews with Francis Bacon by David Sylvester

The book is broken up into a series of 9 interviews, however the interviews due occur over varied periods of times (a day, days, weeks, etc.) and also cover a variety of subjects during each interview. I would recommend reading the book from beginning to end, as there is a sense of a passage of time as well as a narrative, even though that is not how the book is written.

I picked this book up because of my already existing interest in the work of Francis Bacon, and this book is known as the most inciteful piece of information into his life and work. It did not disappoint; I would highly recommend this book. It kept my attention. Because the book is a series of interviews it covers many topics and never feels like its droning on. The book also features beautiful photographs and examples of Bacon’s work, and so was a visually beautiful book to read. The author, who was also the interviewer and close friend of Bacon’s doesn’t attempt to change Bacon’s words around and so the book feels very authentic to witnessing their conversation, however it is still very clear and easy to read. The language is simple, and most topics are covered very concisely so it never feels as though there is rambling, and it is not a challenging read. There are many topics covered throughout the interviews, ranging from (but not limited to) Bacon’s painting process, how he chooses his portrait subjects, his opinions on certain art and artists, to his philosophies about life. As incredible as the book is, I would recommend having a little knowledge of Bacon’s work, even if that is just looking him up and looking through his work. However, I would personally recommend the documentary on YouTube called A Brush with Violence, which gives a fantastic and interesting overview of Bacon’s life. Just keep in mind the book as well as the documentary do have mentions of adult topics such as violence, gambling, and sex.