An exciting opportunity has arisen to view Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of George Dyer, 1966 beside Lucian Freud’s Man in a Blue Shirt, 1965. The works form part of the Ordovas exhibition ‘London Painters’ which debuted in New York in 2017 and now showcases at the Ordovas gallery, Saville Row, London until 28 April 2018. This touring exhibition is the first time that these portraits, both depicting Bacon’s lover George Dyer, have been hung together.
Seen as both contemporaries and rivals, the stark differences of Bacon and Freud’s interpretation of Dyer gives a fascinating insight into both the artists, sitter, and the emotional struggles that were taking place on both sides of the canvas. Martin Harrison notes of the piece in Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonne: ‘the head in the centre panel is melting, disintegrating as if it had been subjected to an unseen but unbearable external pressure.’
Three Studies of George Dyer, 1966 is one of five triptychs that Bacon painted of his lover. Dyer appeared in many of Bacon’s paintings during their tempestuous relationship which lasted from 1963 until Dyer’s death two days before the opening of the Francis Bacon Retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1971. His death had a profound effect on his Bacon’s work, with the artist expressing his grief through a group of ‘Black Triptychs’. Though not always named, Dyer continued to appear in a great number of Bacon’s paintings. To find out more about Dyer and other sitters who inspired Bacon’s art, click here.
Also on display is Bacon’s Fury, 1944 which relates to Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944 - the first Bacon painting in the Tate’s collection and a piece which gained critical attention for the artist. Both pieces show a screeching creature on an orange background which hit a nerve with the war-ridden audience of the time. According to Biographer John Russell, the work ‘caused a total consternation.’ For Bacon, the pieces represented the Eumenides from Aeschylus’ Greek tragedy the Oresteia.
‘London Painters’ at Ordovas, brings together works by proponents of the ‘School of London.’ The phrase was coined by R.B. Kitaj to describe a group of London-based artists who pursued figurative painting in the face of avant-garde approaches in the 1970s.
In addition to Bacon and Freud, other artists in the exhibition include Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj and Leon Kossoff. Gallery owner Pilar Ordovas says the show ‘unites pictures that highlight relationships and circles of shared acquaintance, as well as London itself, the city that provided such a thrilling backdrop to so much of their work.’ It is fitting then, that the School of London is reunited in the city that inspired them.
22 February - 28 April 2018
Ordovas, Saville Row, London
*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visiting, we recommend contacting Ordovas for all confirmation regarding the display.
Word ref: Ordovas press release, Tate website and Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, 2016.