centennial year of Francis Baconís birth has been good for both his memory
and his art. In a May to August showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York viewers were presented with an opportunity to intimately view
works by Bacon. Now heís receiving the kind of treatment thatís reserved
for all favorite sons: a prominent recognition in his home town.
The exhibition, Francis
Bacon: A Terrible Beauty
is curated by Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane to celebrate
Bacon's centenary and the immense archive of Francis Bacon's studio
material. The exhibition opened on the 28th October 2009,
exactly 100 years since Baconís birth at 63 Lower Baggot Street. This is
The Hugh Lane's first major showing of the archival material since
receiving the Studio in 1998 and Dublin in an exhibit that showcases this
extraordinary resource alongside selected paintings dating from 1944 to
1989, many of which have been rarely exhibited.
Francis Bacon's Studio was
originally located in 7 Reece Mews, London. The donation of the Studio to
Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane was made by Bacon's heir, John Edwards
and supported by Brian Clarke, executor of the artist's Estate. The Hugh
Lane team archaeologically retrieved over 7000 items from the studio and
catalogued them before removing the material along with the architectural
features to Dublin.
The Studio was reconstructed in
the Gallery and opened to the public in 2001. The removal and relocation
of Bacon's Studio and the subsequent compilation of the database of the
archival material is acknowledged as one of the most pioneering and
successful realizations of preserving and displaying an artist's studio.
Study for a portrait of John Edwards by Francis Bacon 1989
© 2009 The Estate of Francis Bacon
The focus of Francis Bacon: A
Terrible Beauty is on new material from the archive exhibited for the
first time. This material illuminates the methods and motives behind the
work of one of the principal artists of the 20th century and
offers us a new understanding of Bacon's work and artistic practice.
The archive provides a lexicon
for the interpretation of Francis Bacon's paintings and no future
scholarship is valid without consulting this great resource. Francis
Bacon: A Terrible Beauty provides a unique opportunity to reappraise
the artist's oeuvre through the selected paintings supported by previously
unseen material from the archive.
A full colour illustrated
catalogue published by Steidl accompanies this exhibition with texts by
Rebecca Daniels, Barbara Dawson, Marcel Finke, Martin Harrison, Jessica
O'Donnell, Joanna Shepard and Logan Sisley.
The exhibition: Francis
Bacon A Terrible Beauty continues to March 7, 2010
The venue: Dublin City
Gallery The Hugh Lane, Parnell Square, Dublin 1, Ireland
Francis Bacon was born in Dublin
1909. Acknowledged as one of the greatest
artists of the 20th century, he grew up in County Kildare and left to work
and live in London when he was just sixteen. From 1961 until his death
in 1992, 7 Reece Mews in South Kensington, London was the centre of
Bacon's working life. The Studio measured 4 x 8 metres (12' x 27').
After Bacon's death his sole
heir John Edwards wanted the Studio to be preserved and put on public
view. He donated the Studio to Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane in 1998.
A team of four archaeologists was put in place to meticulously record and
move every one of 7,500 items found in the Studio. The final database is
the most comprehensive documentary archive of any artist living or dead.
The discovery of over seventy
drawings disputes the idea that Bacon never produced preparatory drawings.
Drawings were found on pages torn from books, magazines and loose paper.
From a conservation point of view these drawings represented a challenge
as while extremely fragile their folds and crumples had been made quite
deliberately by Bacon himself.
There were over 100 destroyed
canvases found in the Studio. The destroyed painting Study for Men
with a Microphone along with the two pieces cut from the
original canvas is one of the most important and dates from 1946. A black
and white illustration of the painting (before it was destroyed) appears
in John Rothenstein and Ronald Alley's 1964 catalogue raisonne.
Over 1500 photographs were found
in the Studio. Deliberately torn, creased and folded photographs by John
Deakin, Peter Beard, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Peter Stark and many others
provide a fascinating insight into the bohemian milieu in which Bacon
operated and his methodology of manipulating his source materials.
The photography of John Deakin
played a crucial role in Bacon's portraiture from the early 1960s onwards.
The painter possessed more than three hundred of his photographs, their
visual impact is arguably enhanced by their distressed, often fragmentary
state. They feature Bacon's lovers Peter Lacy and George Dyer, as well as
his friends, Lucian Freud, Isabel Rawsthorne, Henrietta Moraes and Muriel
Belcher. Most were taken from the late1950s to early 1960s but there are
also images of Bacon himself dating to as early as 1952.
It seems that some clarification on this venue's name might be helpful.
Previously it was called the "Municipal Gallery of
Modern Art". It has subsequently been renamed the "Dublin City
Gallery The Hugh Lane".
However, it frequently is known simply as "The Hugh
1908, The Municipal Gallery of Modern Art opened in temporary
premises in Harcourt Street,
Dublin. On a note of further historical significance, it was the
first known public gallery of modern art in the world. The motivating force
in the creation of this gallery was a
prominent art dealer widely considered
as a gifted connoisseur of fine arts, Hugh Lane.
County Cork on November 9, 1875, Lane was raised in Cornwall, England. His
career began as an apprentice painting restorer. However, he eventually became
a highly successful London art dealer who amassed a private collection of
Lane had hoped that
Dublin Corporation would run the fledgling gallery, but the corporation was
unsure of its financial viability and thus for a time the gallery was
dependant upon private contributions for its funding. Regrettably,
Lane did not live to see his
gallery permanently situated. He died in 1915, a
casualty of war in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, off the west coast of
Since relocated to Parnell Street, the museum has
established a permanent collection and hosts exhibitions primarily of
contemporary Irish artists. The contents of Francis Bacon's studio
(7500 items) were catalogued and
then, along with the studio itself, were removed from the London location and reconstructed in the Dublin gallery
Today, the gallery includes an extension, featuring a
dedicated Sean Scully room. Also, the entire collection bequeathed by Hugh
Lane, is displayed there alternatively with the National Gallery London.
Links for further information . . .
"Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane" . . .