The Barber Institute of Fine Arts has hung a Francis Bacon masterpiece for the first time in its history, facilitated by a loan from by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
The occasion also marks only the second time that Francis Bacon’s Two Figures in a Room has been displayed away from the SCVA since 1962. The painting is free to view at Birmingham’s Barber Institute until 26 March.
Two Figures in a Room features two naked figures, usually interpreted as male lovers, and was daring and provocative at the time of its creation, when homosexual acts in private between men were still illegal in the UK.
‘Two Figures in a Room was the penultimate manifestation of the crouching nude configuration that had absorbed Bacon since he painted Study for Crouching Nude, 1952 (52-01).’ – Matin Harrison FSA, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné Volume III, page 564.
Works by Matisse, Degas and Michelangelo have been suggested as sources for the two figures – and its display in the Barber’s Red Gallery among the old master paintings of the permanent collection simultaneously suggests the debt and influence of historic art on modern painters.
The Barber Institute is also running related events including: lectures, tours and workshops, you can find out more about these on the exhibition website, and further insight on the display can be found in this recent Barber article.
Word ref: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts website and ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné Volume III’.
Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change, for all confirmation please contact The Barber Institute of Fine Arts.
With Francis Bacon’s Head VI 1949 currently exhibiting in the UK City of Culture 2017, Hull, it seems fitting that the revered painting be the subject of our next ‘Catalogue Raisonné Focus’.
Head VI is on display at Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery throughout the year, and until 1 May 2017 it is joined by four other works by Bacon in the display Francis Bacon: Nervous System.*
In Volume II of the Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné, Martin Harrisson FSA writes of Bacon’s Head VI:
‘This is the earliest surviving painting in which Bacon combined Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X and a still image from the Odessa steps sequence in Sergei Eisenstein’s film, Battleship Potemkin. It is Bacon’s most celebrated fusion of traditional art and modernism – a Baroque masterpiece and an already-famous cinema image – a diachronic conflation that became one of his fundamental precepts.’
‘At this stage Bacon had encountered the Portrait of Pope Innocent X only in black and white reproductions, and he believed the purple and lavender of the Pope’s cape to be the correct colours; although the Velázquez obsessed Bacon for twenty years, he did not paint an accurately red Pope until 1960.’
We’ll be sharing further excerpts in the near future. If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.
*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change, for all confirmation please contact Ferens Art Gallery.
Excerpts: Martin Harrisson, FSA, 49-07 Head VI 1949, Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné Volume II, pages 202 – 205.
The learning resource uses four distinct works by Francis Bacon as jumping-off points for artistic and visual enquiry. Initially created to complement the Art and Design Curriculum at Key Stage 3 in the United Kingdom, it is also intended to support and inspire students and teachers of all levels.
It can be used to encourage independent research, provide homework activities, provoke group discussions, support sketchbook work or simply invite new ways of looking at a well-known artist’s work.
Each chapter has been designed to be self-contained so that the user can either choose to read through from beginning to end or simply pick which elements are most relevant to them without the need to refer to the rest of the pack.
The four Bacon works in order of their appearance in the resource are Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X 1953, Crucifixion 1933, Three Studies of Lucian Freud 1969 and Study of a Baboon 1953.
English Heritage have announced that the life of Francis Bacon is to be celebrated with a blue plaque at 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington, London. The artist moved into the London property in 1961. It was to remain his principal home and studio until his death in 1992.
‘I am very influenced by places – by the atmosphere of a room … I just knew from the very moment that I came here that I would be able to work here.’ – Francis Bacon
The English Heritage London blue plaques scheme, which has been running for 150 years, links significant figures of the past to the buildings in which they lived and worked.
‘Francis Bacon is widely regarded as one of the most significant painters of the 20th century. His blue plaque will mark the converted stable block in South Kensington where he lived for more than 30 years. It was here that he painted some of his most celebrated works including Three Studies for a Crucifixion (1962) and Portrait of George Dyer Talking (1966).’ – English Heritage
Bacon is one of six individuals to be recognised with Blue Plaques in 2017. Other lives celebrated include; film star Charlie Chaplin, performer Sir John Gielgud, women’s rights campaigner Mary Macarthur, dancer Rudolf Nureyev and volunteering advocate Stella Lady Reading.
Bacon is also presently recognised by two other plaques. A National Art Collections Fund plaque marks where the artist and other notable residents lived at 7 Cromwell Place, London. A Dublin Tourism plaque marks the artist’s birthplace at 63 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin.