Paralytic Child Walking on All Fours (from Muybridge), 1961
In Paralytic Child Walking on All Fours (from Muybridge), a naked body on hands and feet is finding its way around a bare space. Human or animal? The ambiguity creates tension and confronts the viewer with the awkwardness of the figure. Paralytic Child… is inspired by Muybridge's shocking but fascinating series of photographs of a crippled child. Francis Bacon has turned the image into a poignant but serene painting. Bacon gives only subtle hints of the nature of the space around the child is moving. One green and one black plane, separated from each other by an ultra-fine strip of unpainted canvas, indicate the wall and floor. On the right, a framework leans against the black plane. It is reminiscent both of a stretcher for canvas and a doorframe. In this picture it creates an illusion of depth and lends direction to the movement of the child.