Francis Bacon is a scream. He will always be a scream. Just think of the roar from that fleshy maw under the umbrella in “Painting” from 1946. Bacon didn’t just paint screams. There are “religious” triptychs, portraits, angry animals, and the ongoing presence of raw meat. But Bacon would not be Bacon without the screams. How you feel about the screams is, I think, the essence of how you’ll feel about every Bacon work.

And the man — whose most influential paintings now date back more than half a century — can still stir things up. The current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective,” has inspired the full gamut of critical response. People are falling over themselves just to disagree. Jerry Saltz, of New York Magazine, likes the… More…