In order to fully understand the exhibition, we have to travel back to 1971. This was one of the most defining years in both Bacon’s professional and personal life.
In October ’71 a triumphant and career-making retrospective was organized at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. This exhibition would establish Francis Bacon internationally and put him on the map as one of the major artists of the second half of the 20th century. In order to prepare for this retrospective, he painted no fewer than four new triptychs and even made replicas of his older work that owners refused to lend.
Just two days before the opening, his companion George Dyer committed suicide in their hotel room in Paris. Dyer, suffering from a long-term depression, died from an overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills. This tragic event strongly influenced Bacon’s work. He painted several commemorative portraits that are amongst the strongest and most touching in his oeuvre. The triptych In memory of George Dyer (1971) is one of the masterpieces currently exhibited at Centre Pompidou.