The art of Francis Bacon (1909-1992) and Henry Moore (1898-1986), displayed in dialogue at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, will surely make one of the most startling exhibitions of the year. Over 60 works ranging from an early concrete carving, Mask, 1929 by Moore, to Second Version of Triptych 1944, painted in 1988 by Bacon, provide this provocative and illuminating meeting of the two colossi, the best-known British artists of the past century, who both had two retrospectives at the Tate in their lifetimes (a distinction only equalled by Richard Hamilton).
The iconoclastic, tortured, vivid and continually metamorphosing figurations of Bacon are seemingly in sharp contrast to Moore’s resolute, even sturdy sculptures. But the aspirations of Bacon and Moore, as this exhibition demonstrates, are also curiously complementary. The show’s curators, Martin Harrison, editor of the forthcoming complete catalogue of Bacon’s work,