Francis Bacon's Painting March 1985' is part of the Jacques Duplin collection to be auctioned in Paris on June 4th as part of Christie's Contemporary Art sale.
Writer, poet and gallery director Jacques Dupin died last year. Bacon and Dupin were admirers of each others work, working together closely from the time of Bacon's exhibition at Galerie Maeght, where Dupin was a director in 1966. Jaques Dupin wrote texts for catalogues of both Bacon's exhibitions at Galerie Lelong, Paris in 1984 and 1987. 'Painting March 1985' featured in the September 1987 Galerie Lelong exhibition. It was gifted to Jacques Dupin by Bacon at the same time as a mark of their friendship, and no doubt Bacon's gratitude for the prefaces Dupin had contributed. Two years later Bacon was commissioned to paint Dupin by the French Ministry of Culture resulting in 'Portrait of Jacques Dupin (1990).
In it's original state 'Painting March 1985' was then conceived as one of Bacon's 'new seascapes' with the first title: 'Study of a Wave' (1983) still visible on the reverse. The original title is understandable with water emerging from the right of the piece threatening to splash neighbouring art. However on completion the 'wave' was no longer the only focal point. Accompanying the expansive aquatic greens and blues contrasting against what appears to be a clear blue sky is a trademark Bacon space-frame, or 'cage' as Dupin referes to it, and an intriguingly familiar creature.
"the confrontation of a monster with the sea...the spectral fantastic creature loosing blood from an orifice that is neither mouth nor wound"
- Jacques Dupin's comments on the painting in 1987
The "fantastic creature" Dupin describes was also noted by him to have been "a regular visitor". With comparisons drawn to the mythical creatures since Bacon's first masterpiece 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion' (1944). Certainly appearances of a very simular creature are visible in 'Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus' (1981) and 'Oedipus and the Sphinx after Ingres 1983'. With the 'Eumenide' creature in 'Painting March 1985' Bacon is thought to be returning to the epic, ancient Greek tragedy Eumenides and Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus. For Bacon the Eumenides are shocking violent and visual creatures; potent signifiers of the artist's own inner sensations.
Interesting is the use of the signature space-frame present in this piece, in this instance the 'cage' is heavily interactive with the subject. Not installed as a frame or confine, but rather to provide an ironically flimsy vessel that the creature seems to cling to in desperation, denoting further 'life and death balances' commonly found in Bacon's later works.
'Painting March 1985' is earmarked as a top lot of Christie's Parisian sale. The painting has already been exhibited in London and New York, and exhibits in Paris ahead of the sale at the below dates and times. Coming from Jacques Dupin's collection and with Bacon often visiting Paris, it seems appropriate that this piece be exhibited and auctioned in the French capital. For more information on the painting click here and view some in depth writings on 'Painting March 1985' under the 'lot notes' tab.
Christie's Contemporary Art sale (19:00, 4th June 2013)
Exhibition: Saturday June 1st from 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday June 2nd from 2pm to 6pm and Tuesday June 4th from 10 am to 6pm. (Please note date, times and location may alter, please contact Christie's for further information)
9 Avenue Matignon
Word reference: Christie's press release & websites, J. Dupin, preface to the catalogue for the exhibition Francis Bacon - Peintures Récentes in Repères - Cahiers d'Art Contemporain, No. 39, 1987., Martin Harrison - Christie's website 'lot notes' March 2013, article in Le Monde, 22nd March 2013 by Philippe DAGEN.