Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Drawings 'attributed' to Francis Bacon.

Before I leave Berlin it was great to be able to catch a fascinating exhibit at two intimate locations in the city. Galleria Nove & Werkstattgallerie are displaying a controversial collection of around fifty drawings 'attributed' to Francis Bacon.

From a complete amateur's perspective I was a little skeptical but was told that authentication beyond all doubt, was imminent.

From the press release by curator Edward Lucie-Smith: As everyone interested in Bacon’s work knows, Bacon many times, and often vehemently, denied that he made any use of drawing. This is contradicted however by an early interview with the critic David Sylvester (Bacon’s most frequent interlocutor), which is preserved on film. In it, Bacon admits that he does draw, but coyly says that puts his drawings aside and doesn’t look at them, when the moment comes to paint a picture. Yet, since Bacon’s lonely death in Madrid in 1992, a mass of evidence has emerged to show that he not only did draw, but drew prolifically.


  1. Martin Harrison is absolutely correct in stating that the 600 drawings owned by Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino are not by Francis Bacon. I visited Bacon at his Reece Mews studio in 1981 and I asked him if he ever considered using charcoal for portraiture since this
    coarse and grainy rugged-textured medium can produce the very 'non-illustrational' free-marks that Bacon often achieved from oil paint.

    Bacon always wanted to get away from what he called 'illustration' (a literal likeness) and with charcoal one can make 'non-illustrational' marks that form facial features without having to literally 'draw' them in. Charcoal would have been the ideal medium Bacon would have used had he wanted to make 'complete' (not sketched) artworks (portraits), and not pencil.

    I asked Bacon if he ever used pencil to make portraits with and he said no, and he told me that he did not like the pencil drawings of Lucian Freud saying that they were far too 'refined' and 'detailed'.

    Drawing in pencil is antithetical to the ethos of anti-illustration that Bacon aimed at. The Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino drawings have eyes that are far too literal, far too 'illustrational', to be by Bacon.

    The crude and garish bright colour schemes used in these 'Italian drawings' are reminiscent of pop art that are not used by Bacon. Why would Bacon - who was into 'chance' making 'arbitrary' and 'irrational' marks, use such a 'graphic fine art' medium such as pencil? Bacon used to throw paint at the canvas; but one cannot throw pencil at a piece of paper! The Francis Bacon Estate is right to reject these drawings as not made by the hand of Bacon.

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