BLUE PLAQUE COMMEMORATES BACON ON HIS BIRTHDAY

Descriptive image: Francis Bacon's blue plaque at 7 Reece Mews, London, © English Heritage.
Francis Bacon’s blue plaque at 7 Reece Mews, London, © English Heritage.

“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

On the 108th anniversary of his birth, English Heritage have honoured Francis Bacon with a blue plaque at his chaotic London studio-home 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington.

Bacon moved to 7 Reece Mews, a converted Victorian coach house, in 1961. The tiny studio on the first floor was to become the most important room in the artist’s life and his main home and studio until his death in 1992. Soon after moving into Reece Mews, Bacon completed his first large-scale triptych, Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962. Over the next three decades he created many of his most significant works there, including portraits and self-portraits, among them Portrait of George Dyer Talking, 1966.

“I work much better in chaos. I couldn’t work if it was a beautifully tidy studio, it would be absolutely impossible for me…Chaos for me breeds images.” – Francis Bacon

Descriptive image: Chaotic interior of Francis Bacon's 7 Reece Mews Studio, London, 1998.
Francis Bacon’s chaotic 7 Reece Mews Studio, London, 1998.

The chaotic nature of Bacon’s studio in 7 Reece Mews has become legendary. He used the walls to mix and test paints and he littered the studio with used paint tubes, jars of loose pigment, paintbrushes, utensils, tin cans, sticks of pastel, pieces of fabric, empty bottles of turpentine, cans of spray paint and of fixative, tins of household paint and countless roller sponges. Paint brushes, cut off ends of thick corduroy trousers, cashmere sweaters, ribbed socks and cotton flannels all featured among the tools of Bacon’s trade, which attests to the sheer range of his painting techniques.

In 1998, six years after Bacon’s death, the studio and its entire contents including the walls, doors, floor and ceiling were removed and painstakingly recreated in The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, the city in which Bacon was born on 28 October 1909. Today, 7 Reece Mews is in the care of The Estate of 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.

“It’s a great idea to put up a blue plaque for Francis Bacon at the idiosyncratic, almost insanely eccentric, tiny upstairs flatlet in which he did some of his finest work.  I’m sure he would have loved it.” – Author and broadcaster, Melvyn Bragg

Descriptive image: Exterior of 7 Reece Mews in 2017 with Francis Bacon's blue plaque. © English Heritage.
7 Reece Mews with Francis Bacon’s English Heritage blue plaque. © English Heritage.

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 63 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin, where the artist was born on this day in 1909.

If you’re interested in more information on Francis Bacon’s Studio, essays and photographs are available on our website. We also recommend the photography publication ‘7 Reece Mews: Francis Bacon’s Studio’.

 

Word reference: English Heritage press release and the writings of John Edwards in the publication ‘7 Reece Mews: Francis Bacon’s Studio’ © The Estate of Francis Bacon.

TWO FIGURES ON DISPLAY AT THE FITZWILLIAM MUSEUM

Francis Bacon, Two Figures, 1953. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné Number 53-24.

From 3 October 2017 to 14 January 2018, Francis Bacon’s Two Figures, 1953, will be on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge as part of their ‘Degas: A Passion for Perfection’ exhibition.

The show marks the centenary of the death of artist Edgar Degas and celebrates his lifetime’s achievements. Within the exhibition there will be a range of his work including painting, pastels, drawings, watercolours, prints of different types of counterproofs and bronze and wax sculptures.

The exhibition’s final section examines Degas’s artistic legacy in the 20th and 21st centuries, notably in the work of Walter Sickert, Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, R.B. Kitaj, Ryan Gander and Francis Bacon. It is here that Two Figures, 1953, makes it’s mark, on show for the first time since the Grand Palais ‘Francis Bacon’ exhibition of 1971.

Bacon painted Two Figures, 1953, at the Berkshire cottage of Peter Lacy, during the most intense stage of their love affair. The ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ remarks on the painting:

‘The curtained background is augmented with extra vertical striations through the two heads, simultaneously diffusing and activating the embrace, while the textures of the flesh and white sheets are painted with exquisitely directed vigour and élan. The ‘mahogany’ bed-heads, an atypically domestic inclusion, was anticipated in (or repeated in) ‘Lying Figure’, c.1953 (53-21).’

Degas: A Passion for Perfection
Fitzwilliam Museum  
3 October 2017 – 14 January 2018
Free admission
Cambridge, UK

Word ref: Fitzwilliam Museum website and the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’, 2016, Voll II, p. 360.

*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visiting, we recommend contacting the Fitzwilliam Museum for all confirmation regarding the display.

RARELY SEEN POPES TO BE DISPLAYED AHEAD OF AUCTION

Decorative image: Francis Bacon, Study of Red Pope, 1962, Second Version, 1971
Francis Bacon, Study of Red Pope, 1962, Second Version, 1971. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné Number 71-04.

Francis Bacon’s Head with Raised Arm, 1955 and Study of Red Pope, 1962. 2nd version, 1971, are due to be included in a free public display in London by Christies.

Until this display and auction, the location of Bacon’s Head with Raised Arm, 1955 was untraceable during the compiling of the catalogue raisonné. The painting’s reappearance is considered a remarkable reappearance of Francis Bacon art. The piece was last exhibited in 1962, at the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin, and acquired by the present owners in the following year.

The auction house highlights that Study of Red Pope, 1962. 2nd version, 1971 has been unseen in public since its unveiling at Bacon’s landmark retrospective at the Grand Palais 46 years ago. Martin Harrison FSA compares the work to its first version (Study from Innocent X, 1962) in the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’:

‘The paint is applied more sparingly, and indeed almost half the canvas is left unpainted. On the other hand, Bacon introduced an entirely new element in the later painting, the figure (presumably George Dyer) seen reflected in the curved mirror to the right.’

The display of these rarely seen Bacon works begin on 30 September at Christies’ King Street address, proceeding their ‘Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction’ in October, find out more via Christie’s website.

Word reference: Christies website and the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’

*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visiting, we recommend contacting the Christies for all confirmation regarding the display.

BROWSE AND LICENSE BACON IMAGES WITH ARTIMAGE

Decretive Image: Francis Bacon, Painting, March, 1985.
Francis Bacon, Painting, March, 1985. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved.

You can browse and license hundreds of Francis Bacon images via the DACS resource, Artimage.

The digital image resource is curated to showcase and license exceptional works of modern and contemporary art.

Last year, Artimage worked on a major project to license materials supporting Museo Guggenheim Bilbao’s blockbuster 2016 autumn/winter exhibition, Francis Bacon: From Picasso to Velázquez.

To view all the Francis Bacon images available for license, visit the DACS resource, Artimage.

BACON ART TO FEATURE IN TATE’S 2018 SHOW

Francis Bacon, Three Figures and Portrait, 1975. Oil and pastel on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2015. All rights reserved.
Francis Bacon, Three Figures and Portrait, 1975. Oil, pastel, alkyd paint and sand on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017 All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné number: 75-07.

From 28 February 2018 to 27 August 2018, Francis Bacon’s art will feature in the Tate Britain exhibition ‘All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life’.

The show plans to celebrate painters in Britain who found new ways of depicting people, places, feelings and relationships, capturing the sensuous immediate and intense experience of life in paint.

Art from Bacon and Freud will be showcased alongside rarely seen works by their London-based contemporaries. With artists including Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, R.B. Kitaj, Leon Kossoff, Paula Rego and F.N. Souza set to feature. Find out more via Tate here.

All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life’
28 February 2018 – 27 August 2018
Tate Britain, London

*Information on which Francis Bacon’s works are to be featured, will be confirmed at a later date. Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visiting, we recommend contacting Tate Britain for all confirmation regarding the display.

Word ref: Tate Britain website.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: THREE FIGURES AND PORTRAIT, 1975

Francis Bacon, Three Figures and Portrait, 1975. Oil and pastel on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2015. All rights reserved.
Francis Bacon, Three Figures and Portrait, 1975. Oil, pastel, alkyd paint and sand on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017 All rights reserved.

Our ‘Catalogué Raisonné Focus’ series continues with Three Figures and Portrait, 1975, currently on display in the Bacon, Freud and the School of London exhibition Museo Picasso Málaga, Spain.

The painting combines three images of George Dyer, which all remain discrete entities, with the foreground featuring ‘a leering harpy / owl perched on a table’ which was ‘usually introduced by Bacon as a sign of mockery or malevolence’.

The spine, which is almost coming out of the skin of the left hand figure, can be associated with Bacon’s comment on a Degas pastel, After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself (c.1890-95, National Gallery, London). Within it the spine is referenced as having a grip and twist and that ‘you’re more conscious of the vulnerability of the rest of the body than if he had drawn the spine naturally up to the neck’. [Sylvester, pp.46-47]

The portrait pinned to the wall is that of Dyer with him also represented on the rail to the right where he appears to be either sprouting wings, or as a half-Eumenides, half-angel.

Excerpts: Martin Harrison, FSA. 75-07 Three Figures and Portrait, 1975, Catalogue Raisonné Volume IV, page 1080-1081.

If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

FIGURE STUDY I & II ON DISPLAY TOGETHER IN EDINBURGH

Decorative image: Figure Study I & II
Francis Bacon, Figure Study I, C. 1945-46. Oil on canvas. Figure Study II, C. 1945-46. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon’s Figure Study II from the Kirklees Collection is now on display free to the public at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) in Edinburgh, alongside its companion piece Figure Study I.

Figure Study II is one of a series of paintings from the 1940s that features visual elements such as coats, umbrellas, plants and flowers, and in this case a screaming figure – set in ambiguous interiors with an orange background. They represent the first group of works which Bacon was confident enough to exhibit, having destroyed a number of his earlier works in the 1930s.

Figure Study I was acquired by National Galleries Scotland in 1998, although despite the title, it’s only a figure study by implication, given that it’s one of the few works produced by Bacon not to feature a figure. It does, however, share the same coat motif as Figure Study II, and it has been suggested the screaming figure may be lurking under the coat waiting to emerge.

“Figure Study II is one of the greatest acquisitions the Contemporary Art Society has ever made and the first painting by Francis Bacon to enter a public collection in this country… Its display with Figure Study I offers a rare opportunity to understand the artist’s thinking across two works from a critical moment of Bacon’s career”. – Caroline Douglas, Director of the Contemporary Art Society

Figure Study II was first exhibited in London in 1946, and then purchased by the Contemporary Art Society. In 1952 when the curator of the Batley Art Gallery accepted the piece as a gift from the Contemporary Art Society on behalf of Batley, it became the second work by Bacon to enter a public collection, the first being Painting, 1946 acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

When not on loan, Figure Study II has been on permanent display at Huddersfield Art Gallery. The painting has been loaned to a number of major exhibitions in London, Australia and Japan, and has recently been part of the Invisible Rooms exhibition at Tate Liverpool which traveled to Germany’s Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.

As we approach the 25th anniversary of Francis Bacon’s death on 28 April, this is an exciting opportunity for the public to experience viewing the artist’s two works side-by-side. Presently the display is set to be in place for the remainder of 2017*. For further information please visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art website.

Francis Bacon’s Figure Study I and Figure Study II
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One)
Free admission
Edinburgh, UK

Word ref: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art press release, with special thanks to Senior Curator Grant Scanlan.
*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visiting, we recommend contacting the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art for all confirmation regarding the display.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: STUDY OF A BULL, 1991

Decorative image: Francis Bacon, Study of a Bull,1991.
Francis Bacon, Study of a Bull,1991. Oil, aerosol paint and dust on canvas. The Estate of Francis Bacon All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Catalogue raisonné number: 91-04

To continue our ‘Catalogué Raisonné Focus’ series, on the month of the 25th anniversary of Francis Bacon’s death, it seems apt to look back at the final painting he completed, Study of a Bull, 1991.

On the amount of dust used in the painting, Bacon expressed ‘Well, dust seems to be eternal – seems to be the one thing that lasts for ever’. A quote that has all the more significance considering his death would follow not long after this piece.

‘Bacon told Valerie Beston that he intended the painting as a homage to Federico García Lorca. It is probably also pertinent that his friend Michel Leiris, author of Miroir de la tauromachie, had died in September 1990.’

This wasn’t the first time that a bull had featured in a piece of art by Bacon, as he’d been painting bullfighters since 1969.

‘The Bull is monumental, magisterial, standing motionless and implacable at the top of the picture-field.’ ‘…a metaphorical bull-man, the noble but threatened beast with which Bacon is identifying’.

Excerpts:Martin Harrison, FSA. 91-04 Study of a Bull, 1991, Catalogue Raisonné Volume IV, page 1392.

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.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: HEAD VI 1949

Decorative image: Francis Bacon, Head VI (1949)
Francis Bacon, Head VI, 1949. Oil on Canvas, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné number: 49-07.

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.

FRANCIS BACON TEACHING AND LEARNING RESOURCE LAUNCHED

Decorative image: Francis Bacon, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, 1969.
Francis Bacon, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, 1969. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved / DACS 2017. Catalogue Raisonné number: 69-07. One of four works utilised in the new ‘Francis Bacon Teaching and Learning Resource’.

“No, I don’t believe in teaching. One learns by looking. That’s what you must do, look.” – Francis Bacon

The Estate of Francis Bacon has launched its first ‘Francis Bacon Teaching and Learning Resource’, available for free to teachers, students and anyone eager to learn about the late 20th century master.

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.

Decorative image 'Francis Bacon Teaching and Learning Resource', page 11.
‘Francis Bacon Teaching and Learning Resource’, Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X 1953, page 11.

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.

The Estate are considering further learning resources and are eager to receive feedback. We invite users to share their thoughts with us either using the form built into the learning resource page, by emailing us at social@francis-bacon.com or via Twitter and Facebook.