Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon

1998 television film directed by John Maybury

Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon is a 1998 film made for television by the BBC. It is a biography of the artist Francis Bacon, and concentrates on his strained relationship with George Dyer, a small time thief.

They say you're pure horror. 'The morbid poet of the world of evil.'
Written and directed by John Maybury, based on Daniel Farson's book "The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon".

Francis BaconEdit

  • Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends.
  • [voice over] I watch him while he's sleeping. A prisoner of dreams. Fighting the battle he's always going to lose. But I'm powerless to help him as I'm powerless to help myself. So I watch and wait.
  • [voice over] Submitting entirely to the service and pleasure of the dominant partner. This I find a catharsis, in that all responsibility is relinquished, every move is dictated. No decisions are your own, who exists solely for the service and pleasure of another man.
  • [voice over] What mad misfortunes make his eyes blaze with despair? I dream of some tough lover. Big as the Universe, his body blemished by shadows. He'll crush me, naked, in gloomy bars between his golden thighs. A mundane yob transformed into an archangel. Is my lover to be my assassin? Or I his? Loneliness - my only true companion - will always rival any lover. Its greedy desire... always drive a wedge between me and any contender for my company. And I question myself; do I possess some inner destructive demon?
  • [voice over] This painful inability to sustain relationships. The selfishness my work demands leaves no room for an emotional self. Can tenderness ultimately only manifest itself in the motion of a brush? Even this remains invisible. The visceral reach, running fingertips along the curved notches of a spine. The line of a femur, the curl of tendon into muscle. The smell. To violate, to desecrate, to examine a person from the inside, eroticizing the white shirt cuff glimpsed beneath a dark suit. The girth, the solids, the sack of flesh, just offal bags. Ruminating intestines. Fine wines filled and swilled with rich food, trying to create some distance between myself and some dead lover.


[Dyer has just broken into Bacon's studio]
Francis Bacon: And who might you be? Well, you're not much of a burglar, are you?
[Dyer doesn't say a word]
Francis Bacon: Take your clothes off, come to bed... and you can have whatever you want.

George Dyer: You actually make money out of painting?
Francis Bacon: Mmm.
George Dyer: Not something I ever really thought about. I mean, there were some pictures of my mum's but they weren't really for looking at, they were just... just sort of there.
Francis Bacon: Yes. That is interesting, George.
George Dyer: Nothing like your's, obviously.
Francis Bacon: Obviously.

Francis Bacon: [to Dyer] Our time together has given me a whole new energy. Not just for the work, but moment's like these. You may well become a subject for a painting.
George Dyer: That would be fantastic. I always wanted a picture of me.

[while Dyer is being measured for a suit]
Francis Bacon: A man being measured for a suit is not the similar to his being measured for the old wooden box.
George Dyer: It feels like a bloody coffin. It's fucking hot in here, Francis.
Francis Bacon: Yes it is hot, George. Mr Dyer will arrange to collect the suit and I think we're going to have some shirts and some appropriate ties.
George Dyer: Hold on! Hold on! Don't go over board. I mean, I feel so...
Francis Bacon: So clothed?
George Dyer: [laughs] You just don't care what people think, do you?
Francis Bacon: Come on, I want you to meet my friends. Now, we can have a drink. God knows I need one.
George Dyer: What? You're mates?
Francis Bacon: The Colony is a refuge for lost souls, no longer in possession of living bodies.
George Dyer: Can't we just go to the pub?
Francis Bacon: No.

John Deakin: I drink for the thirst to come.

John Deakin: I don't think you know me at all, Muriel.
Muriel Belcher: No, I don't give a fuck, dear. You're a nasty little shit, Deakin. You're a waste of space and you bore me. Why don't you ponce somewhere else. This Hitler was more generous than you.

Francis Bacon: Everybody, this is George. This is Muriel, Isabel, the beautiful Henrietta, and Deakin. Introduce yourselves. George is a little shy.
George Dyer: Hello...
John Deakin: So... who's Arthur and who's Martha?
Muriel Belcher: Oh, piss off, Deakin! I'm really sick of it!
John Deakin: I'll talk to you after you've had a shave...

Daniel Farson: I'm Daniel Farson. Tonight, on Hungry Eye, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Britain's greatest living painter, Francis Bacon.
Francis Bacon: Good evening.
Daniel Farson: Francis Bacon, your work is known internationally as some of the most challenging and powerful of the post war years, you've resisted the abstract movements which have dominated those years and have championed the importance of the figure in modern art. Why is the figure so important to you?
Francis Bacon: Well, its difficult to describe really. One can only talk about one's instincts and avoid the rest.
[cut to Bacon's studio]
Francis Bacon: [on the TV] I do it with a chance. Brush stroke, which locks the magic in place.

Francis Bacon: [to Deakin] George has qualities. A combination of amorality and innocence. And note that I say innocence and not ignorance.
[pours champagne on Deakin's head]

George Dyer: [to Bacon] You knew it was me, but you made me stand there in the pouring fucking rain!
John Deakin: We've missed you, George. What have you been up to? Still posing?
George Dyer: Don't start on me, Deakin. I'm really not in the mood. You have no idea what goes on with me and Francis. You're the fucking ponce, not me. At least I don't try to make a career out of someone else's life.
John Deakin: No good deed goes unpunished.

George Dyer: What about Paris?! Am I still coming?!
Francis Bacon: A man that killed the thing he loved and so he had to Dyer! Of course you're coming! You are the exhibition!

Francis Bacon: [to Rawsthorne] It's like the floor in the Japanese pot, that's what makes it so superb. There's no beauty without the wound. Lucifer was the most beautiful angel, that was his fatal flaw. Too much like their creator, darling. I just like to make one picture that would annihilate all the rest. A violent fusion or the past or the present. Concentrated into a single, raw sliced open nerve.
Isabel Rawsthorne: The portraiture of you're pain.
Francis Bacon: No. [laughs]
Isabel Rawsthorne: No. The tenderness is so visible in every brush stroke. The paintings of George are like exquisite love poems. That's the irony of the George pictures. I mean, you seem to put more into the work than into the relationship itself. And ultimately you suffer just as much.

Francis Bacon: Look, why don't you just go, George. I got to get on with this.
George Dyer: I'm going, I... I'm going. Anyway, when you gave me the keys, it was meant to mean I could live here.
Francis Bacon: What's past is past.
George Dyer: You call yesterday the past?
Francis Bacon: George, I am a painter! This is a studio! That is a painting! You are in the way!
George Dyer: But it's a painting of me! Or anyone would bloody well notice.
Francis Bacon: Oh, well thank you for the critique, George! I feel much better! Now I know where I stand! Now, after that enlightening discussion, will you just piss off!


  • Study for a portrait of Francis Bacon.


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