During the 1980s Bacon exhibited in prestigious institutions all over the world. Now in his seventies, Bacon was at the height of his fame and when Tate Britain celebrated him with a second retrospective in 1985, then director Sir Alan Bowness declared him the ‘greatest living painter.’
The 1970s began with a tragedy. Two nights before the opening of Bacon’s retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris in 1971, George Dyer, who had accompanied his friend to the event, died from a drug and alcohol overdose in his hotel room. During the following years Bacon painted a group of ‘Black Triptychs’, such as Triptych, May—June, 1973, to express his grief and to commemorate his friend. Even though he was not always named, Dyer continued to appear in numerous paintings thereafter.