Francis Bacon: Francophile is the first book dedicated to photographs of Bacon taken in France. Bacon first visited Paris in 1926, then again in 1927, to learn French and become acquainted with French culture. The book is edited and introduced by Majid Boustany, founder of the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation, Monaco. Boustany sets Bacon’s contacts and esteem for French life and culture in context. Eddy Batache (with Reinhard Hassert, good friends of Bacon’s in Paris) writes about Bacon’s everyday responses to Paris and French cuisine and wine, so important to the artist. Yves Peyré writes about Bacon’s reading in French.
The photographs range from casual holiday snapshots to appearances at vernissages up to formal portrait photographs by professional photographers. The first photographs are by Bacon’s cousin Diana Watson, with whom he travelled to Paris in 1932. There are few photos until 1971, when the selection becomes richer with Bacon’s Grand Palais retrospective. The photographs of 26 October 1971 are a psychological profile of Bacon as he greets friends and dignitaries at the opening, all the time knowing that his lover was lying dead in a hotel bathroom. The private views for exhibitions in commercial galleries were big social events, with crowds pressed up against Bacon in order to get signatures.
There are many photographs taken by Batache and Hassert, not only at Bacon’s Paris flat in the Marais, but in visits to other parts of France. Seeing Bacon in chateaux gardens or wine cellars makes a change from the usual studio and museum settings. Visitors noted that Bacon kept his Paris studio apartment much cleaner than his London studio, not least because he slept and lived in a single room. We see Bacon posing on the street or seemingly caught unawares, wearing a glossy black overcoat. Some of the cultural luminaries of the period are seen with him, including Miró, Masson, Hayter and others. Michel Leiris was a personal friend and one of the writers whose general works and essays on Bacon himself Bacon most valued.
The edition is limited to 206 copies, each sold with a loose photographic print by André Ostier enclosed. It is available only from the Foundation. Francophile is an attractive book sure to be snapped up by Baconophiles.
Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print
Try three issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £5Subscribe