Saturday, April 01, 2006


Bacon's Studio

There's a fascinating review in TLS of Margarita Cappock's study Francis Bacon's Studio:

The dismantling in 1998 of Francis Bacon’s London studio, wall by paint-spattered wall and object by distressed object, and its painstaking reconstruction in the Dublin City Gallery, ranks as one of the more extraordinary conservation projects of modern times..... The illustrated database compiled by Dr Cappock and her team at the City Gallery catalogues no fewer than 7,500 objects found in Bacon’s studio, including illustrated publications, photographs, press cuttings, notes, drawings, artist’s materials – among them several pairs of Marks and Spencer corduroy trousers used to apply paint – and slashed canvases. This remarkable research tool has already, in the four years since the studio opened, begun to change the face of Bacon scholarship. For instance, we now know that Bacon, contrary to what he maintained, sometimes made rough preliminary sketches, suggesting, as Cappock observes, that he “was much more premeditated in his approach to painting than he cared to admit.”

...But the most curious discovery made by Cappock and her colleagues was a well-thumbed and paint-smeared copy of a 1920 book on mediums, ectoplasms and other psychic phenomena by Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, which Bacon never mentioned to anyone. As Martin Harrison in his recently published study of Bacon and photography has demonstrated, faked spiritualist photographs made a decisive impact on Bacon’s painting from an early stage.
Not mentioned in the review, but also well worth having, is Perry Ogden's 7 Reece Mews, a beautiful volume of photographs of Bacon's studio...

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