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

Publication date:
10 Aug 2005
Paul Mellon Centre
296 pages: 273 x 216mm
106 b-w + 20 color illus.
Sales territories:


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.

Martin Hammer is senior lecturer in the history of art, University of Edinburgh. He is coauthor of Constructing Modernity: The Art and Career of Naum Gabo, published by Yale University Press, and curator of a major exhibition of Sutherland’s art that opens at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, in May 2005.

'[A] beautifully written study...a trove of rich explorations' - Wilson Yates,