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Bacon and Sutherland:
Patterns of Affinity in British Culture of the 1940s

Martin Hammer

Publicaton Date
May 2005
Standard Number
Yale University Press
296 pages

Both Francis Bacon (1909-1992) and Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) were highly influential modern British artists, yet in temperament they could not have been more different. This book is the first to consider their intriguing artistic dialogue, offering a rich and subtle analysis of their work up to 1950. Martin Hammer’s starting points are the strong stylistic and thematic affinities between Bacon’s and Sutherland’s work and the fascinating series of letters that Bacon wrote to Sutherland (transcribed in an appendix). Hammer considers the dynamics of the artists’ relationship, their intertwined careers, and how they expressed the experience of living through the Second World War and the onset of the Cold War.

How did these two artists engage with international modernism when much English art was narrowly insular and “patriotic?” In what ways did their art embody a creative response to Picasso and surrealism? The author investigates these and many other questions to illuminate the personal and professional relationship between two compelling twentieth-century artists.

About the author

  • hammer

    Martin Hammer is Professor of Art History at the University of Kent and currently Head of the School of Arts. His many publications have engaged with the art of Naum Gabo, Graham Sutherland, and Francis Bacon (e.g. Francis Bacon and Nazi Propaganda, Tate, 2012); with the idea of the Naked Portrait, the theme of an exhibition he curated in 2007 for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Compton Verney; and, more recently, patterns of transatlantic artistic exchange, with particular reference to the early work of David Hockney.