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Francis Bacon in Your Blood Paperback – January 3, 2017
"This fine memoir is more insightful than gossipy, and as a subject Bacon is just about unbeatable." -- The New York Times
In June of 1963, when Michael Peppiatt first met Francis Bacon, the former was a college boy at Cambridge, the latter already a famous painter, more than thirty years his senior. And yet, Peppiatt was welcomed into the volatile artist's world; Bacon, considered by many to be "mad, bad, and dangerous to know," proved himself a devoted friend and father figure, even amidst the drinking and gambling.
Though Peppiatt would later write perhaps the definitive biography of Bacon, his sharply drawn memoir has a different vigor, revealing the artist at his most intimate and indiscreet, and his London and Paris milieus in all their seediness and splendor. Bacon is felt with immediacy, as Peppiatt draws from contemporary diaries and records of their time together, giving us the story of a friendship, and a new perspective on an artist of enduring fascination.
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"A frank and stylish memoir." ―The New Yorker
"A gouache decoupe of a friend, against a background of art history . . . Peppiatt’s remembrance is neither tribute nor apologia. Francis Bacon in Your Blood is a candid portrayal of a very famous man who could be very generous, even with his foes, and very petty, even with his friends." ―John Reed, The New York Times Book Review
"Every page is fresh, immediate, and flashing with glimpses into Bacon’s complicated psyche and Peppiatt’s own conundrums . . . He celebrates with ever-replenished wonder the timeless artist’s creativity, 'freedom and energy and total individuality.'" ―Donna Seaman, Booklist
About the Author
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 3, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1408856301
- ISBN-13 : 978-1408856307
- Item Weight : 10.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.01 x 1.05 x 7.83 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,412,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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with Francis Bacon. Books, articles, catalogues, exhibitions. He’s had a hand in them all
at some time or other. It’s sometimes hard (especially in the earlier years) to determine
just how reliable a witness he was to the great man’s “gilded gutter” life and what it was,
exactly, that Bacon saw in him that he seemed so prepared to share so much of himself.
There’s more than a whiff of sycophancy in Mr Peppiatt’s quasi-parasitic relationship with
him (so much so that I began to feel decidedly queasy at times!) and I felt some surprise
that he was so easily absorbed into Soho’s Bohemian inner-circle. A Grade A freeloader!
Having said this he has delivered yet another layer of insight (his 2008 biography ‘Francis
Bacon’ : Anatomy Of An Enigma’ notwithstanding) into the life and mind of perhaps the
20th century’s greatest painter. It stands together with Daniel Farson’s ‘The Gilded Gutter
Life Of Francis Bacon’ (1994); Gilles Deleuze’s ‘Francis Bacon : The Logic Of Sensation’
(1981) and David Sylvester’s ‘The Brutality Of Fact : Interviews With Francis Bacon’ (1987)
as one of the most absorbing and revealing accounts of both the artist’s work and psyche.
All the bit-players in a colourful and drunken life are well represented here.
Sonia Orwell emerges as an insufferably vile snob; the photographer John Deakin, who is
rather more sympathetically depicted here than in some other accounts of the period; Lucien
Freud ( a very curious fish indeed!) and Muriel Belcher, foul-mouthed matriarch of The Colony
Room drinking club in Dean Street, are all vividly reincarnated in their alcohol-soaked glory!
At the heart of the book stands Bacon’s turbulent and ultimately tragic relationship with small-time
crook and lover George Dyer. Dyer’s suicide had a profound effect on the artist’s creative and
emotional life. Here Mr Peppiatt has heard words unlikely to have been shared in such moving
detail with anyone else in Bacon’s coterie. The sense of love and loss and regret is palpable.
In his later years Mr Bacon reveals, in moments of great pathos, a few glimpses of something
akin to vulnerability and loneliness as his peers and close companions bite the dust one by one
and his health and vitality begin to decline. A life of glorious excess finally begins to take its toll.
Over time Mr Peppiatt seems to become more of an intelligent listener rather than a limpet
and after the shock of Bacon’s death he comes to some kind of realisation (and perhaps it
is not yet another vain notion) that he was chosen to be (as Quentin Crisp has described the
actor John Hurt as his “representative on Earth”) the man to tell the story (as far as it can be
truthfully told) of a fascinating life. At the end of the day I believe Mr Peppiatt has succeeded.
His infatuation and obsession are our reward.
In his memoir of Francis Bacon - ‘Artist of the Macabre’ as labelled by the New York Times - Michael Pepppiatt gets right under the skin of his subject. Even when abroad, in Paris or New York, he is forever trying to ‘get more to grips intellectually and imaginatively with Francis’s paintings.’ He sees himself as Boswell to Bacon’s Johnson, or, more revealingly perhaps, as a son seeking a father figure, for Peppiatt was never close to his father, and this memoir is as much to do with the writer as its nominal subject, Peppiatt having already written Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma. So to say that the critic is a mere ‘follower’of the artist would be to make a gross understatement. In this book he in a sense becomes Bacon. He is no mere shadow, but a torch-bearer, never afraid to boast that he belongs spiritually to ‘the greatest living artist since Picasso.’
Of course not everyone would agree that the painter of the grotesquely distorted popes, for example, is in the same league as the Spanish master, and as far as the general public is concerned they would be more likely to agree with George, the subject of so many of Bacon’s most celebrated works - who incidentally gets no mention in the index and eventually committed suicide - that Bacon’s work is ‘f***in’ ‘orrible.’ George is an example of Bacon’s attraction to the ordinary down-and out, a professional thief who finds in his master-painter a convenient source of income and gracious living. Whether the relationship was ever more than a so-called ‘marriage of convenience’ is never made explicit, but from what we know of Bacon’s predilection for sexual partners it seems likely that the artist used his model in the expected way.
One might expect Peppiatt’s sexual nature to come under scrutiny as the closest friend of the artist, but he appears to be firmly heterosexual, although his intimate relationships are not part of his story. Bacon in fact accepts his friend’s preference and is perfectly charming to his biographer’s women friends, but when Peppiatt eventually admits to having married and produced an offspring, Bacon is appalled. ‘Just do it in and get rid of it altogether,’ he declares in a fit of anger, as if the joy of becoming a parent is the most obscene folly a human being can commit.
Altogether a great read about Bacon the man rather than Bacon's art.