Francis Bacon’s Double Portrait of Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach, 1964 is currently on display at Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The painting was created with oil on canvas and first exhibited as part of the group exhibition ‘XXe Salon de Main’, at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris on 16 May to 7 June 1964.
The subjects of the painting, Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach were contemporaries of Bacon and moved in the same Soho circles. All three artists are known for their portraits of close friends. The artists’ friendships spanned decades with the three being part of the ‘School of London’ alongside R.B. Kitaj, Michael Andrews, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin and Leon Kossoff. The term was used to describe the group of London-based artists who were pursuing forms of figurative painting in the face of avant-garde approaches in the 1970s. Bacon’s close friendship with Freud was tinged with an underlying rivalry and ended abruptly in the 1980s. Shortly before his death, Bacon described the dissolution as ‘rather sad’.
The bold palette used in Double Portrait of Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach, 1964 can be attributed in part to the British Pop Art movement. Bacon had an informal association with The Royal College of Art, which was close to his studio, and similarities can be seen between this piece and works such as Gift Wrap, 1963 by pop artist Richard Smith.
The diptych depicts Freud to the left and Auerbach to the right, each half reclining with their lower bodies exposed. Interestingly, a slashed canvas of Bacon’s now at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane shares the same floor, wall and chair as this piece and is thought to be the centre panel of an intended triptych, flanked on either side by these two portraits.
Present - August 2019
*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visiting, we recommend contacting Moderna Museet, Stockholm for all confirmation regarding displays.
Word ref: The Estate of Francis Bacon website, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 3, p744-747, Moderna Museet website