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Notes for Users

 

 

NOTES FOR USERS

 

 

The online bibliography on francis-bacon.com is based on the printed version published in Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné (Vol. V, pp.1430-1525). It was compiled by Krzysztof Cieszkowski, and you can read about his experience of researching it in his introduction to the section:

 

‘Francis Bacon had a poor opinion of artists’ bibliographies. ‘What it’s all for?’, he asked me the first time that I met him. I was introduced to him at Marlborough Fine Art by Miss Beston, who informed him that I was working through all the press-cuttings in the gallery archive for the bibliography for the catalogue for his forthcoming Tate Gallery retrospective: ‘What is the purpose of it?’ He had no faith in what was said about him in print. ‘The critics hate me. They have always hated me’, he added. Having read through scores of reviews of his exhibitions, I could not agree with this opinion, which he repeated. The literature seemed overwhelmingly to contradict the assertion. His statement seemed to refer to his belief that people should look only at his paintings, and not waste time reading about them – particularly reading attempts at interpretation. 

Richard Francis, curator of the exhibition, asked me to prepare a bibliography for the catalogue, and for the best part of a year I devoted a substantial part of my working-days to this bibliography. 

I had two great advantages from the start. Firstly, the catalogue raisonné that had been compiled by Ronald Alley in 1963 included a thorough bibliography up to the time of publication. Secondly, I was introduced to Valerie Beston and given access to the files of press-cuttings, photocopies, catalogues and ephemera that had been compiled under her supervision. Miss Beston was endlessly supportive as regards the bibliography, and took the opportunity of introducing me to Francis Bacon when he called at the gallery; I wrote up my meetings with him in great detail in my journal, and am able to retrieve the impressions and memories of those meetings now. 

I knew how Francis Bacon felt about the paintings that predated Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, c. 1944, and I reasoned that the bibliography would be a good opportunity to provide information on the publications that documented this early work, which could not be fully discussed in other sources. I believed that Bacon would not look at the published bibliography closely enough to notice that it included everything that I had managed to unearth relating to these pre-1944 works, and in this I was correct. 

The catalogue was originally to have been published by Thames & Hudson, and Nikos Stangos estimated that the full bibliography would take up 48 pages of the whole catalogue, which was too large a proportion; I was asked to cut it down to one-sixth of the whole. The result was far from satisfactory: all the important entries remained, but in a truncated version, with potentially useful information omitted. The bibliography that was published in the Tate Gallery’s catalogue was a ghost of what I had wanted it to be, and the laudatory opinions that were expressed with regard to it were not entirely pleasing. 

Further problems awaited the Tate’s catalogue. Richard Francis wrote an introductory text and compiled substantial catalogue-entries on each of the 125 works that was included in the exhibition, but these were vetoed by the artist, with the result that the curator’s name does not even appear in the catalogue. The only intimation of what might have appeared in the catalogue is his text in the small 32-page booklet that was published by the Tate Gallery at the same time as the catalogue. It is thus evident that the bibliography in the Tate Gallery’s 1985 Francis Bacon catalogue was a disappointment to the compiler. In compiling the present bibliography, I have gone back to the full version of the 1985 bibliography and added many items that were omitted at the time, through carelessness or ignorance.

The bibliographer confesses to deriving a quiet joy from noting that, for example, variants on the phrase ‘bringing home the bacon’ have been used as the title to no fewer than 31 articles or reviews, 26 of them from 1985 or later – and in each case he imagines a sub-editor’s satisfaction at having thought up a completely original pun on the artist’s surname. He has learned from the titles alone of the pieces that he has listed that Francis Bacon was a Surrealist, an Expressionist, a Realist, a Mannerist; an Existentialist painter, an Apocalyptic painter, a Fantastic painter, a painter in the Grand Manner, un peintre halluciné; that he was a second Fuseli, le Titien anglais de ce siècle, der Goya unserer Zeit; that he was estoico, spinozista, proustiano. In conclusion, I might add that I also learned he was Batman’s favourite artist.

K. C.’

 

Introduction printed in Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné (Vol. V, p.1430).