Francis Bacon: Shadows

A new publication supported by the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation entitled Francis Bacon: Shadows

The Foundation is pleased to announce the release of the book Francis Bacon: Shadows, the fourth volume in the series ‘Francis Bacon Studies’, launched and published by The Estate of Francis Bacon with the financial support of our institution. Martin Harrison, editor of Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, is the series editor. It explores little-known aspects of Bacon’s life and work and includes never before published paintings by the artist.

Francis Bacon: Shadows continues in the revelatory mode established by Inside Francis Bacon. It comprises six essays on diverse topics, interpretative as well as factual, which cumulatively present an abundance of fresh ideas on Bacon. The fundamental aim of the series—to rethink Bacon’s art from new perspectives—is impressively fulfilled by its eminent authors. With previously unseen photographs and some 120 colour illustrations, this beautifully-presented book boldly treads compelling new territory, bringing to light explosive new insights on the works of one of the twentieth-century’s most highly-regarded artists.

In addition to introducing the authors of this volume and the wider context around their illuminating research, the editor shows some exciting and unseen photographs and includes a tribute to a major, if under-acknowledged, Bacon scholar, David Boxer (1946–2017). Christopher Bucklow turns his attention to the contrast between Bacon’s art and the art of our own times, setting Bacon in the context of Romantic Modernism’s confidence in the unconscious as a source. Amanda Harrison’s essay ‘Bacon’s Occult Traces’ investigates the effect of these influences through evidence that has so far remained hidden, or unrecognised, in the shadows of his paintings. In ‘Between Francis Bacon and the Intellect’, Croatian writer and artist Stefan Haus conducts a stimulating extended study into the impact of Bacon’s paintings. Drawing on the ideas of philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Kant and Hegel, Haus’s essay is simultaneously philosophical and visceral, itself forming an analogue to the intensity of Bacon’s art.  In Hugh Davies’s many meetings with the artist in 1973 he was often invited to socialise with Bacon’s closest friends. Some of his notes were published in Francis Bacon: New Studies – Centenary Essays in 2009, but for the first time we shall be publishing in their entirety Davies’s unexpurgated on-the-spot diary entries. Passages previously considered inappropriate for publication now reveal a more rounded view of Bacon as both man and artist. In her enlightening essay, ‘Work on the Barry Joule Archive’, Sophie Pretorius expertly untangles the controversy and confusion that has surrounded Bacon’s supposed source material in the Barry Joule Archive. Finally, Harrison himself contributes his new essay, ‘Lost Bacon Paintings’. Except for those which had been published while he was still living, paintings that Bacon destroyed were excluded from Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné (2016). Bacon had destroyed them because he considered them ‘failures’, and to circulate images of them, it was reasoned, carried the risk of misrepresenting him. Ultimately, the larger responsibility to make his oeuvre available publicly has outweighed this decision: now these 13 as yet unknown paintings – fascinating, if unresolved – can be seen for the first time. 

More information on the book here

Publication of the intimate new biography Francis Bacon: Revelations, a decade in the making

Publication of the intimate new biography Francis Bacon: Revelations, a decade in the making

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of de Kooning: An American Master, present an original and detailed portrait of Francis Bacon based on hundreds of interviews and extensive new material. Revelations is a deeply researched and well-told story of a sickly boy who became one of the great artists and cultural figures of his time.

The biography offers a previously unseen view into Bacon’s early life as a self-described asthmatic child, through to his astonishing breakthrough in 1944 with Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. The book goes on to explore the following decades and his emergence as one of the great iconoclasts and bons vivants of his time, whom one friend called ‘a terrific grandee’. It ends with a look at Bacon’s last days, his battles with his health, and the consolidation of his myth and his artistic legacy. The authors describe an artist who believed in chance and paradox: an iconoclast who eventually became an icon. They posit that the twentieth century does not know itself without Bacon. The Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation has contributed to this publication by making available its archives and vast collection of images and articles to Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. The institution was warmly thanked by the authors.

The Art of Isabel Rawsthorne

A new publication supported by the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation: Out of the Cage, The Art of Isabel Rawsthorne

Our institution is pleased to announce the release of the book Out of the Cage, The Art of Isabel Rawsthorne, written by Carol Jacobi, launched and published by The Estate of Francis Bacon with the financial support of the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation. Martin Harrison, editor of Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, is the series editor.

Isabel Rawsthorne (1912-1992) was hidden in plain sight. From celebrated portraits of her in Berlin to sketches in the Tate, likenesses in museums around the world have kept her secrets. This book combs the depths of her fascinating life and the extraordinary art she herself made from it.

A contemporary of the Parisian and London avant-gardes, Rawsthorne’s own painting career was somewhat eclipsed by the many occasions on which her friends made her the subject of their art, notably Jacob Epstein, André Derain, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon. Exhibited from the early 1930s, her startling work first garnered serious attention in the 1940s and she was well-known in the 1950s and 1960s; but after she died, popular biographies of Giacometti and Bacon cemented her status not as an artist, but as an artist’s muse.

Exhibiting between 1933 and 1990, usually as Isabel Lambert, Rawsthorne’s art was a poetry of things: an emptied glass, a cut flower, a felled bird, the animal or human body, caught in ephemeral frameworks. Her experiences in France encouraged her eventual rejection of neo-romantic visions of the natural world in favour of an austere contemplation of existence. Known for her unique graphic skill, she saw the touch, mark, and stroke in any media as her means of investigating ‘presence’.

This richly illustrated book takes the lead from Rawsthorne’s compelling biography to reconsider sixty years of her art, now housed in several major public collections. Jacobi re-examines the pre- and post-war art history of which Rawsthorne was a part, tracing the painter’s life and art through the upheavals of the 20th century and her intense and often unconventional relationships with some of its most revered figures. More than a decade of research into Rawsthorne’s work, archives and the memories of her friends brings to light countless revelations.

More information on the book here

Cour Napoléon © 2012 Pyramide du Louvre, arch. I. M. Pei, Musée du Louvre/Olivier Ouadah

A patronage in favour of the Musée du Louvre

Majid Boustany wished to associate the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation with the Musée du Louvre by becoming a patron of this prestigious Parisian institution. In 2020 he created a dedicated fund within the Musée du Louvre Endowment Fund, directed towards the conservation and enhancement of the institution’s collections, thus enrolling his donation in an enduring project.

The income from this fund is destined to support the restoration of the museum artworks that Francis Bacon admired during his frequent visits. The Slaves by Michelangelo, as well as works by Raphaël, Titian, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Chardin, Goya, Ingres and Delacroix, housed in the museum, were major artistic references for Bacon and had a considerable influence on his working practice.

Cour Napoléon et Pyramide © Pyramide du Louvre

Cour Napoléon et Pyramide © Pyramide du Louvre, arch.
I. M . Pei, Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN – Grand Palais / Stéphane Olivier
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Francis Bacon: Francophile

Francis Bacon: Francophile, the first book dedicated to photographs of Francis Bacon in France

Our institution is pleased to announce the launch of its latest publication, Francis Bacon: Francophile. Featuring over 150 photographs of the British artist in France, each copy includes a numbered and signed print of a photograph of Francis Bacon taken on the boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris in 1982 by the French photographer André Ostier.

The book unveils iconic and often previously unseen photographs of Bacon in France, a country for which he had a deep affection. Francis Bacon: Francophile offers a new view of this singular artist through a portfolio of photographs spanning from 1932 to 1991, accompanied by quotes from Bacon on France, its culture, its artists, and its intellectuals. The photographs are drawn from the MB Art Collection which holds the world’s most extensive collection of photographs of Francis Bacon encompassing over 700 hundred prints by more than eighty photographers.

This book has been printed in a limited numbered edition of 206 copies, representing the number of Francis Bacon’s paintings shown during his lifetime at his solo exhibitions in France. Only forty copies of this book are for sale (295€). To order a copy, please contact the Foundation.

Francis Bacon: Francophile, the first book dedicated to photographs of Francis Bacon in France
Cerise Thelwall Doussot

The second research scholarship awarded to a student of the École du Louvre

Cerise Thelwall Doussot is the recipient of the second scholarship for research in art history offered to a PhD student of the École du Louvre by the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation.

She began her doctoral dissertation in 2020. Her thesis, entitled ‘Francis Bacon et les collections parisiennes’, analyses the impact of works seen by Bacon in Parisian art collections, principally museums, on his own paintings. Starting with a comprehensive exploration of the ties between the artist and the city of Paris, this research aims to bring together the traces, testimonies and correspondence concerning not only Bacon’s Parisian sojourns, but also his museum visits and the way in which he apprehended and absorbed the art of the past in this context.

More information on this scholarship recipient

The Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation produces its first documentary, ‘Bacon: the Van Gogh Sequence’

The Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation produces its first documentary, Bacon: the Van Gogh Sequence

In 1957, in the middle of a transition period in his life, Francis Bacon produced a series of paintings inspired by Van Gogh’s The Painter on the Road to Tarascon.

This series marks a turning point in his work, radically changing his palette. Bright and vivid colours erupt on the canvas. The application of short thick strokes contrasts with his previous works.

This documentary is directed by Alain Amiel and produced by The Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation. It is available on the Foundation website and on YouTube.

Vincent Van Gogh
The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, 1888
Francis Bacon
Study for Portrait of Van Gogh V, 1957

WATCH THE FILM

Francis Bacon, ‘Painting’, 1930

The Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation takes part in the ‘Picasso – Bathers’ exhibition presented at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

The Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation is participating in the ‘Picasso – Bathers’ exhibition held at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon until 3 January 2021 by lending a work from the MB Art Collection: ‘Painting’, 1930, Francis Bacon’s first oil on canvas.

In this exhibition, the Musée des Beaux-Arts takes a fresh look at the theme of the bather in Pablo Picasso’s work, with the counterpoint of works by nineteenth-century artists who influenced him in his treatment of this subject. Also presented are works by Picasso’s contemporaries and those who followed on from him – specifically artists who took an interest in Picasso’s bathers or found in them a source of inspiration or a springboard from which to take a very different direction.

The exhibition has been organised in partnership with the Musée national Picasso-Paris and with the assistance of the Guggenheim Foundation, Venice. The painting that inspired the exhibition, Woman Seated on the Beach (10 February 1937), was bequeathed to the museum by the actress and collector Jacqueline Delubac and has become one of the icons of the museum’s modern art collection.

The exhibition includes almost one hundred and fifty works from many of the major public collections of Europe and the United States, as well as from private collections; it also incorporates archival material relating to the different periods Picasso spent at the seaside. It is punctuated by a wide range of photographs of the artist and his friends and family, many taken by Dora Maar and Eileen Agar.

‘Picasso – Bathers’ exhibition poster

More information on the exhibition here

Inside Francis Bacon 2020 Cover image

A new publication on Francis Bacon: Inside Francis Bacon

The Foundation is pleased to announce the release of the book Inside Francis Bacon, the third volume in the series ‘Francis Bacon Studies’, launched and published by The Estate of Francis Bacon with the financial support of our institution. Martin Harrison, editor of Francis Bacon: Catalogue, Raisonné, is the series editor.

The six essays in Francis Bacon Studies III: Inside Francis Bacon constitute a ground-breaking multi-disciplinary study of Bacon’s life and art and disclose fascinating new information about this elusive artist. Where the content of Francis Bacon Studies I and II reflected the application of theory-based methodologies, several of the authors of Inside Francis Bacon consider the artist through more traditional art-historical disciplines, including biography and the technical analysis of his paintings. This is in line with our intention that Francis Bacon Studies should embrace the widest possible range of new thinking about Bacon.

Three of the essays, those by Francesca Pipe, Sophie Pretorius and Martin Harrison, are based on archives that have been added only recently to the collection of the Estate of Francis Bacon. What they reveal will revolutionise our perceptions of Bacon. Very little is known about his early life and career, and the diaries of his two earliest patrons facilitate a much deeper understanding of his formative years than, until now, has been possible. Many of the myths that Bacon and his apologists created in the 1980s are exploded: for example, in a recent broadcast a Tate curator confidently informs the audience of Bacon’s brutal upbringing and the ‘horse-whippings’ he suffered, claims based on gossip and hearsay that evidence published in Inside Francis Bacon seriously challenges. Especially revelatory are the extensive records kept over a long period by Bacon’s doctor, Paul Brass, a generous long-term loan by Ruth Brass. Sophie Pretorius’s analysis of them will require a fundamental revision of preconceived notions about Bacon’s character and psychology, and also explains the uneven production rate of his paintings.

Sarah Whitfield sheds significant new light on both Bonnard and Bacon; she has identified concerns the two artists shared that will surprise as well as inform. Joyce Townsend draws on her scientific and technical investigations into Tate’s most important Bacon paintings, as well as comparisons with the techniques of many other artists, to advance engrossingly fresh information about Bacon’s aims and techniques. Christopher Bucklow extends his meditations on the metaphor system in Bacon’s paintings published in Francis Bacon Studies I. His ideas are always compelling and challenging, and his essay reflects wide, and perhaps unexpected, terms of reference, ranging from William Blake to Japanese ukiyo‑e prints.

More information on the book here.

Ecole du Louvre

An exceptional patronage in favour of the École du Louvre

On 8 June 2020, a meeting between Franck Riester, the French Minister of Culture, Claire Barbillon, the Director of the École du Louvre and Majid Boustany, patron of this project, concluded with the announcement of the launch of this major programme of works, entitled Projet École du Louvre 2021.

Following the agreement in 2016 of the partnership between the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation and the École du Louvre, in which the Foundation awards a research grant to a PhD student every four years, Majid Boustany wished to support the École du Louvre in its extensive programme of works.

This project comprises the creation of a research centre, together with the redevelopment and refurbishment of the school’s library and its adjoining offices, the restructuring of its documentation and IT services and refurbishment of the cafeteria. This ambitious architectural project, whose sole patron is the founder of the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation, will take place in the Aile de Flore (Flore wing) of the École du Louvre and is expected to reach completion in 2021. It will reconfigure the institution as a whole, placing documentation and research at the heart of education, at the heart of teaching.

The Foundation’s name will appear on various plaques within the École du Louvre.

This patronage represents the greatest support ever received by a teaching institution under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture.



Claire Barbillon, Majid Boustany and the French Minister of Culture Franck Riester.
©EDL/M. Ledur
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