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Marlborough Graphics’ exhibition Bacon and Freud: Graphic Works, opening in Mayfair, London, this week, showcases how each artist approached printmaking.

Bacon, the older of the two artists, based his prints on his existing paintings, collaborating with European printers on a series of lithographs and etchings. Though he did not complete them physically, he liked prints to remain as close as possible to those paintings.

“Prints were produced under his supervision and he personally made changes to proofs when necessary, always ensuring the right colour balance was achieved,” said Marlborough Graphics director Frankie Rossi.

Bacon’s works are forceful, featuring large forms and distorted shapes, suggestive of unsettling spaces and disturbing subjects.

Freud’s works are equally unnerving, but achieve their effect with an uncompromising representation of weakness and wear.

Freud started etching early in his career but produced the majority of his prints during the 1990s. These works are of intimate and personal subjects, distinct from his painting, and – unlike Bacon’s pieces – almost all devoid of colour.

Marlborough is connected with both artists. Bacon began working with the gallery in 1958 and it has carried a number of his graphic works ever since. In 1993, the gallery published a catalogue raisonné of Freud’s etchings and today offers one of the largest collections of the etchings in the world.

Remembered as two of the leading figurative artists in 20th century Britain, the show demonstrates how each artist translated the effectiveness of his painting into graphic media. The Bacon and Freud exhibition runs from January 18-25.