Francis Bacon. In the Mirror of Photography, Studiolo. Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Siegen (2022-23)
The new acquisition of the painting “Turning Figure” from 1963 by the 3rd Rubens Prize winner Francis Bacon marks the occasion for the current Studiolo presentation. With a total of seven exemplary works by Bacon in the Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection, this painting opens up an additional perspective in Bacon’s artistic œuvre. In connection with the latest research on Bacon’s pictorial sources, expanded interpretation possibilities arise.
It is a street scene. A figure is turning around, looking back at something that remains invisible around the corner of a house; the event is indicated, however, by the eerie stream of a white mass on the pavement. Mysterious though this work may be at first glance, it prompts us to take a closer look. In this context, in particular the view into Bacon’s studio in London’s Reece Mews offers a proverbial look behind the scenes: There, the colourful, ankle-deep chaos of battered books, colour-smeared photographs and newspaper fragments proves itself an overflowing storehouse of information, which has been organised and made available for Bacon research in recent years. Here, it is possible to trace which books and magazines Bacon owned and read. Even more interestingly, among the pictorial sources are the countless photographs and illustrations that were later incorporated directly into his painting.
Several of these sources make “Turning Figure” talk. Not only the historical place in the human abysses of the 20th century becomes clear, but also Bacon’s work process. Two other paintings from the Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection, the studies after Diego Velázquez’s famous portrait of the Pope, are also included in this examination of Bacon’s pictorial inventory.
The Studiolo presentation is being developed jointly by Christian Spies, curator of the Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection, and Bacon specialist Katharina Günther. Ms Günther has been researching the pictorial sources in Bacon’s studio over recent years and has now published her findings.
To mark the opening Katharina Günther presented a lecture on Francis Bacon's photographic sources.
Photographs: Phillipp Ottendörfer