In Bacon’s final triptych, made at the end of his career, a composite figure steps in and out of stagelike spaces. Seemingly nailed to the canvas are closely cropped headshots of Bacon’s face, at right, and, at left, that of a Brazilian racecar driver, placed above muscular lower bodies. The triptych form is rooted in Christian religious painting; the center panel is traditionally reserved for the object of devotion. Here, an abject mass of flesh spills forth from the black niche. Bacon said his triptychs were “the thing I like doing most, and I think this may be related to the thought I’ve sometimes had of making a film. I like the juxtaposition of the images separated on three different canvases.”
Gallery label from What is Painting? Contemporary Art from the Collection, July 7–September 17, 2007 .