Early paintings by Bacon to appear in first major retrospective of his work for 25 years

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The Independent Online

A major retrospective of Francis Bacon's work, including revelatory material that emerged from his London studio after his death, will be among the highlights of Tate Britain's exhibitions calendar next year.

The first large exhibition of Bacon's work to be shown in Britain for 25 years will mark the centenary of his birth. It also aims to reassess some of his artwork in light of new material and sources of inspiration that have emerged from his famously chaotic studio at 7 Reece Mews in Kensington.

Comprising about 60 of the artist's major works, the exhibition, which spans his full career, will be the largest ever to examine Bacon's sources and artistic practices.

Chris Stephens, head of displays at Tate Britain, said it was also the first show since Bacon's death in 1992 that brought together his later work with earlier pieces, which Bacon largely censored out of exhibitions during his lifetime.

Bacon, who was the focus of two Tate retrospectives in 1962 and 1985, even destroyed some work from his formative years, Mr Stephens added. "He was an artist who very cleverly controlled his image and how his work was seen. While Bacon was alive, his exhibitions always started in 1944, when he was 35 years old, or that's how he presented his career anyway, by editing out his more immature years of work," said Mr Stephens.

Bacon created a number of studies around the theme of crucifixion and it is thought that a small painting, entitled The Crucifixion, which he produced in 1933 and is one of the few of his early works known to have survived, may be included in the show.

The artist, who is known for his bold, often grotesque and nightmarish imagery in such works as his studies of the Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velázquez, frequently painted distorted faces and bodies. A key revelation, made from material from his studio, shows how he neatly folded and pinned up photographs of people, creating a distorted view of their faces which he then reflected in his paintings.

Among other discoveries in the studio was sports photography cut from newspapers and medical texts, which he used to create images of the body "in extremis", according to Mr Stephens. Other highlights will include the seminal triptych, Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion created in 1944, as well as Study After Velázquez from 1950, and Three Studies of the Crucifix from 1962, which the Tate hopes to borrow from the Guggenheim in New York.

Stephen Deuchar, the gallery's director, said the retrospective, which will open in October 2008, would form the "climax of Tate Britain's programme next year."

The announcement of next year's programme was made yesterday as directors of the Tate unveiled the annual report for both Tate Britain and Tate Modern. The Tate's director, Sir Nicholas Serota, said the galleries had achieved their highest attendance figures ever, with a 7.7million visits to the Tate's four venues, including Liverpool and St Ives, between April 2006 and March this year. –

Other exhibition highlights at the four Tate galleries include Britain's first dedicated display of the works of Mark Rothko, the American postwar painter, as well as the work of Gustav Klimt, Peter Doig and the paintings of the "Camden Town Group" led by Walter Sickert at the turn of the twentiethh century. A show revealing the close friendships between Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Francis Picabia will feature at Tate Modern.

Highlights of the Tate's new season

Peter Doig

The exhibition at Tate Britain will span two decades of work by the artist, surveying more than 50 paintings, including a substantial body of work developed in the five years since he moved to Trinidad in 2002, many of which have not been shown in Britain before. Doig uses everyday images from newspapers or snapshots as a starting point for his paintings.

Mark Rothko

The first major exhibition dedicated to the American artist's late works, next September, will focus on the final years of his career between 1958 and 1970, comprising about 50 works on paper as well as his grand scale, abstract "colour field" paintings. It will bring together 16 Seagram paintings, which make up some of the most seminal aspects of his work.

Niki De Saint Phalle

From February, Tate Liverpool will showcase the works of the Franco-American painter and sculptor best known for her Fontaine Stravinsky works. The show will include the Shooting Paintings from the early 1960s, her religious altars, bride sculptures and the Skull Meditation Room from 1990.

Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia

Opening at Tate Modern from next February, the show will chart the personal and artistic relationships between three of the greatest figures of early 20th-century art. The painter Picabia, the celebrated photographer Man Ray and the artist Duchamp remained friends throughout their lives and influenced each other's work.

Gustav Klimt

The show, opening next May at Tate Liverpool, will present the first comprehensive look at the Viennese artist's work ever staged in Britain. It will examine Klimt's role as the leader of the progressive artistic circle, the Viennese Secession, and his impact on the world of design.

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