‘A Class of Its Own’: Selling Rare Bacon Works to Mark the Artist’s 30th Anniversary | French Bacon

teen, artist, French Baconwho was notorious for escaping to Paris to escape from school and an autocratic, homophobic father who had kicked him out of the family home.

Although his visit was short, Bacon returned to the city two years later and became fascinated by the works of Picasso, Rodin, Degas, and Monet.

Seeing Picasso’s work in the famous Paul Rosenberg gallery, Bacon later said: “At that moment I thought, Well, I’ll try to paint too.”

Returning to London, Bacon became an interior designer. It was the beginning of a long-term relationship with the French capital, however, he would often return to it, eventually setting up his studio in the newly trendy Marais district where he lived for over a decade, from 1975 to 1987.

Now, to mark the anniversary of Bacon’s death 30 years ago on October 28, 1992, one of the most tireless art collectors, Monaco-based philanthropist Majid Boustany, founder of Francis Bacon Foundation MB ArtIt sells a number of rare pieces of paintings, pictures and letters.

Rare postcard signed by Francis Bacon, dated 1934.
Rare postcard signed by Francis Bacon, dated 1934. Photo: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

The highlight of the sale is the 1949 painting crouching figurethe oldest surviving work of Bacon’s long series of curvilinear subjects, which ran until the 1970s, valued at €5 million.

Among the other 20 pieces is a hand-knotted rug made while Bacon was working as an interior designer.

Guillaume Mallecot, who oversees Sotheby’s auction on October 24, says the artist produced 20 rugs in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and only seven are believed to exist today.

“We don’t know very well this aspect of French Baconthe interior designer, and very few of the items he produced in the 1930s are there, so this rug adds a touch of magic to the sale.”

A rare surviving painting from the 1930s (Bacon destroyed most of his early work), studio cornerwhich reveals the extent of Picasso’s influence, is also sold along with a hand-painted postcard, a panel covered in paint from the artist’s studio in Paris – one of only three pictures from this time – and several black and white photographs, including one of by Cecil Beaton and another by Don McCullin.

Francis Bacon painting covered in paint
One of the artist’s paintings. Photo: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

During his lifetime, Bacon was equally stingy with details of his early years, censoring biographers and removing details he disagreed with. However, he admitted that he would not consider himself a successful artist until he gained fame in France.

“If the French liked my work,” he said, “I would feel that I had succeeded somewhat.”

They did. The 1971 retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais is considered the culmination of his career – the only other artist honored up to then is Picasso, although the event was marred by the suicide of Bacon’s companion, Georges Dyer, two days earlier at the Paris hotel where they were staying. David Hockney, 34, and his description Le Monde As a “young competitor” to Bacon, he traveled from London to attend the opening.

“He always believed that the English did not understand him, that his reception in Paris was crucial to his career, and that it was the only place where an artist of his caliber could be recognized,” Didier Oettinger, Curator 2019 Bacon on toutes lettres At the Pompidou Center, he told Le Monde newspaper at the time.

Bacon photo by Don McCullin.
Bacon photo by Don McCullin. Photo: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

This was fully demonstrated by the fact that the president, Georges Pompidou, opened the 1971 retrospective. Margaret Thatcher later described Bacon as: “The man who paints those horrific pictures.”

The success of the Grand Palais Bacon prompted the purchase of a studio on the rue de Birague in the Marais in 1974, which he held until 1987.

Marking the sale, British art historian Martin Harrison, a reference on Bacon’s work, wrote: “Arguably the most important consequence of Bacon’s reception in Paris in the 1970s was that it reflected the ill-advised and fleeting opinions of British critics who tended to assume a distinct decline in his later paintings. . . the French critics ignored such a personal time period and responded cleverly to the great works often first shown in Paris.”

Photograph taken by Cecil Beaton de Bacon in his Battersea studio, circa 1960.
Photograph taken by Cecil Beaton de Bacon in his Battersea studio, circa 1960. Photo: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Mallicott says that despite the obvious influences of other great masters like Picasso, Bacon remains “in a class of his own”.

“There is no Francis Bacon movement, there is only Francis Bacon. He is a giant in the history of twenty-first century art.

All proceeds from the sale will go to Francis Bacon MB of Gardener art Establishment.

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