Meeting Francis Bacon
Photos of Francis Bacon
I remember very clearly one of my first meetings with Francis Bacon in London.
He lead me straight to the tiny kitchen of his studio flat and we were joined by his charwoman — or cleaner-upper as Francis might say when he put on a cockney accent.
Francis Bacon and his charwoman in the kitchen of his house, 7 Reece Mews, London S.W. 7, 1979.
The missis made us both strong cups of English tea and we stood there talking and sipping our tea. l cannot but wonder what she thought about the paintings which filled the very untidy studio. The kindly char must have been amazed and overwhelmed by so much untidiness and her sense of professional pride might even have revolted against the impossibility of cleaning up and clearing out.
I also had difficulties to imagine how the lady undertook the very frightening and dizzying experience of climbing up the narrow stairs looking more like a ladder which lead to the top floor.
It also worried me as to how Francis negotiated those stairs after one of his legendary nights out in the big London restaurants when he would imbibe more alcohol than two big men usually could manage. But Francis could stay very sober after at least a couple of large bottles of champagne or a row of glasses of whisky.
I remember that I had to undergo a kind of test before Francis accepted me. After our first real meeting he invited me to his favourite Soho restaurant. I joined him eating a good dozen of oysters, topped up with lots of drinks. Then we went through a beautiful four course meal where I drank at least four times more alcohol than I was accustomed. Nevertheless it seems that I was able to carry on a more or less intelligent conversation about Art and especially about Picasso for whom Francis Bacon had a great admiration and respect.
I don’t remember how that evening ended, but whatever happened I must have conducted myself nobly, because I had passed the entrance examination to the Francis Bacon circle of friends — in other words his club.
Much later I was allowed to get to know the creative side of the artist. Bacon let me photograph his studio. This was quite an experience as one can see from the pictures.
Francis Bacon in his studio, 7 Reece Mews, London S.W. 7, 1979 or 1980.
From then on I met Francis in London and each time instead of having a working session in his studio, we had a talking session in the comfortable surroundings of a Chelsea or Soho restaurant. Francis was very pleased just to talk. Our photo sessions were confined to me photographing him in the flat or at the Marlborough gallery and sometimes in his Paris studio. Francis did not like to discuss his art and I did not press the subject.
Francis Bacon in his studio in Paris, 1979.
Photos of Francis Bacon