Francis Bacon’s ‘Painting March 1985’ to be Exhibited and Auctioned by Christie’s in Paris

Francis Bacon, 'Painting March 1985' (1985) Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2013. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon’s Painting March 1985′ is part of the Jacques Duplin collection to be auctioned in Paris on June 4th as part of Christie’s Contemporary Art sale.

Writer, poet and gallery director Jacques Dupin died last year. Bacon and Dupin were admirers of each others work, working together closely from the time of Bacon’s exhibition at Galerie Maeght, where Dupin was a director in 1966. Jaques Dupin wrote texts for catalogues of both Bacon’s exhibitions at Galerie Lelong, Paris in 1984 and 1987. ‘Painting March 1985’ featured in the September 1987 Galerie Lelong exhibition. It was gifted to Jacques Dupin by Bacon at the same time as a mark of their friendship, and no doubt Bacon’s gratitude for the prefaces Dupin had contributed. Two years later Bacon was commissioned to paint Dupin by the French Ministry of Culture resulting in ‘Portrait of Jacques Dupin (1990).

In it’s original state ‘Painting March 1985’ was then conceived as one of Bacon’s ‘new seascapes’ with the first title: ‘Study of a Wave’ (1983) still visible on the reverse. The original title is understandable with water emerging from the right of the piece threatening to splash neighbouring art. However on completion the ‘wave’ was no longer the only focal point. Accompanying the expansive aquatic greens and blues contrasting against what appears to be a clear blue sky is a trademark Bacon space-frame, or ‘cage’ as Dupin referes to it, and an intriguingly familiar creature.

“the confrontation of a monster with the sea…the spectral fantastic creature loosing blood from an orifice that is neither mouth nor wound”
– Jacques Dupin’s comments on the painting in 1987

The “fantastic creature” Dupin describes was also noted by him to have been “a regular visitor”. With comparisons drawn to the mythical creatures since Bacon’s first masterpiece ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’ (1944). Certainly appearances of a very simular creature are visible in ‘Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus’ (1981) and ‘Oedipus and the Sphinx after Ingres 1983’. With the ‘Eumenide’ creature in ‘Painting March 1985’ Bacon is thought to be returning to the epic, ancient Greek tragedy Eumenides and Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus. For Bacon the Eumenides are shocking violent and visual creatures; potent signifiers of the artist’s own inner sensations.

Interesting is the use of the signature space-frame present in this piece, in this instance the ‘cage’ is heavily interactive with the subject. Not installed as a frame or confine, but rather to provide an ironically flimsy vessel that the creature seems to cling to in desperation, denoting further ‘life and death balances’ commonly found in Bacon’s later works.

‘Painting March 1985’ is earmarked as a top lot of Christie’s Parisian sale. The painting has already been exhibited in London and New York, and exhibits in Paris ahead of the sale at the below dates and times. Coming from Jacques Dupin’s collection and with Bacon often visiting Paris, it seems appropriate that this piece be exhibited and auctioned in the French capital. For more information on the painting click here and view some in depth writings on ‘Painting March 1985’ under the ‘lot notes’ tab.

Christie’s Contemporary Art sale (19:00, 4th June 2013)
Exhibition: Saturday June 1st from 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday June 2nd from 2pm to 6pm and Tuesday June 4th from 10 am to 6pm. (Please note date, times and location may alter, please contact Christie’s for further information)
Christie’s Saleroom
9 Avenue Matignon

Word reference: Christie’s press release & websites, J. Dupin, preface to the catalogue for the exhibition Francis Bacon – Peintures Récentes in Repères – Cahiers d’Art Contemporain, No. 39, 1987., Martin Harrison – Christie’s website ‘lot notes’ March 2013, article in Le Monde, 22nd March 2013 by Philippe DAGEN.

Francis Bacon included in Tate Britain’s New Presentation of the ‘World’s Greatest Collection of British Art’

Francis Bacon art is included in the Tate Britain’s ‘BP Walk through British Art’, the gallery’s new presentation of the “World’s Greatest Collection of British Art”, which opened to the public on May 14th.

The Francis Bacon work on display is Painted Screen, c.1929, visible via the Tate website here. This was previously joined by Study for a Portrait, 1952, and Triptych – August 1972 but these latter works have since been removed from the display.

This continuous chronological display of the national collection of British art is a walk through time from the 1500s to present day. 500 artworks are displayed over 20 galleries with no designated theme or movement. Some pieces often separated when hung by movement or genre now find themselves chronologically presented side-by-side. The aim of this is to achieve open conversation, giving audiences a more neutral view of the range of art from historical moments.

Francis Bacon is being displayed alongside such major artists as John Constable, William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, George Stubbs, J.M.W. Turner, Gwen John, Stanley Spencer, L.S. Lowry, John Everett Millais, Bridget Riley, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, and Rachel Whiteread.

‘BP Walk through British Art’ is part of BP Displays – Supported by BP. The display is on now, admission is free, view more information on the Tate Britain website.

BP Walk through British Art
Tate Britain
Call: +44 (0)20 7887 8888

Words reference: Tate Britain press release and website. Special thanks to Kate Moores.

Please note this article has been updated since originally published. All details including featured works, exhibition days/hours are subject to change, for all confirmation please contact Tate Britain ahead of your visit.

Bacon’s ‘Study for Portrait’ to be Auctioned in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale

Francis Bacon, 'Study for Portrait' (1981) © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London. All rights reserved.

Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, Christie’s, New York Rockefeller Plaza, 19:00, 15th May 2013

Christie’s will auction Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for Portrait’ (1981) at their Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale in New York. The piece is Bacon’s last posthumous portrait of George Dyer, completed in the year of the tenth anniversary of Dyer’s death. George Dyer died in Paris on October 1971, two days before Bacon’s major retrospective opened at the Grand Palais. The painting features a seated nude cross-legged Dyer, the pose is employed in previous pieces utilising John Deakin’s photographs of Dyer posing in Bacon’s Reece Mews studio, circa 1965.

Francis Bacon was a ruthless self-editor, documented to have destroyed numerous canvases he had become dissatisfied with, he often recalled seemingly complete paintings from galleries to alter to various degrees, or sometimes even destoy.

“Well, if I have been working on it for some time and it just doesn’t seem to be right, I cut it up and destroy it because the paint becomes so clogged and there is nothing to do, as I really do like the paint to be fresh.”

-Francis Bacon

‘Study for a Portrait’ was certainly no exception to Bacon’s ruthless editing. Thought to have been painted around July 1981, Bacon ‘completed’ the piece only to recall it from the Marlborough Fine Art on August 3rd of the same year. Intending on repainting the leg Bacon returned the painting in September 1981 now featuring an altered anatomy, turning the head from almost frontal to face right and transforming a previously biomorphic form found in the top right into a bust of George Dyer. Other changes included the striking pale blue passage serving to highlight George Dyer’s profile.

The two black zones present throughout the alterations of the painting are a signifier of mortality – present in Bacon’s later paintings. However it appears that Bacon lavished considerable attention on the flesh tones present on this piece, opening a counter balancing dialogue creating not a mournful mood, but one of unusually reflective tenderness.

Read more insight on Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for Portrait’ in Martin Harrison’s* text, featured in the ‘Lot Notes’ tab found here on the Chritie’s website. ‘Study for Portrait’ is Lot 46 of the evening auction and has an estimate of $18 000 000 – $25 000 000.

Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale (May 15th, 19:00)
Christie’s Saleroom
20 Rockefeller Plaza
New York
NY 10020
Tel: +1 212 636 2000

Word ref: Christies website, including Martin Harrison’s ‘Lot Notes’: (c)Martin Harrison, May 2013. *Martin Harrison is editor of the forthcoming Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné Quote: (David Sylvester, Interviews with Francis Bacon, 4th ed.,1993, London: Thames & Hudson, p. 196)

Bacon Art Features in Special Exhibition Touring North America

'Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes' (1963) Oil on canvas, three panels. The William S. Paley Collection. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London. All rights reserved.

‘The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism’, 2nd May – 8th September 2013, Portland Museum of Art, USA

Francis Bacon is one of the twenty-four artists currently being showcased at the Portland Museum of Art, in the North America touring exhibition: ‘The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism’. Organised by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York, the exhibition showcases 61 pieces from their renowned William S. Paley Collection, its current leg at the Portland Museum of Art is on now until September 8th. The two Francis Bacon pieces featuring in the exhibition are the above ‘Three Studies for the Portrait of Henrietta Moraes’ (1963) oil on canvas, three panels, and the below ‘Study for Three Heads’ (1962) oil on canvas, three panels.

'Study for Three Heads' (1962) Oil on canvas, three panels. The William S. Paley Collection. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London. All rights reserved.

William S. Paley was a formative and innovative leader in the radio and television world as President and Chairman of the Board at CBS for decades. Inspired by trips abroad to Europe, Paley began to collect modern art in the 1930s, filling his homes with works by Francis Bacon, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, and Paul Gauguin, among others. William S. Paley was also great leader at the MoMA serving as patron, trustee, president and board chairman from 1937 until his death. In one of his greatest acts of philanthropy, Paley donated his personal collection to the MoMA. This touring exhibition ‘The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism’ is a tribute to William S. Paley the collector and patron, sharing modern art with audiences throughout North America.

‘The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism’ began its North American tour in San Francisco California, at the dy Young Museum last year. After its current leg in Portland Maine, it travels to Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec Canada in October, and to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Arkansas, in February 2014.

For more information on the exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art click here, and for tickets click here.

The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism  (2nd May – 8th September 2013)
Portland Museum of Art
Seven Congress Square
Portland, Maine 04101
(207) 775-6148

Word ref: Portland Museum press release and website, special thanks to Kristen Levesque, Director of Public Relations.