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~KINDLE ⚆ Francis Bacon in Your Blood ♺ It Is A Story I Have Been Wanting To Write For A Long Time, Telling It As It Really Was Before That Whole World That I Shared With Francis Vanishes Michael Peppiatt Met Francis Bacon In June In Soho S French House To Request An Interview For A Student Magazine He Was Editing Bacon Invited Him To Lunch, And Over Oysters And Chablis They Began A Friendship And A No Holds Barred Conversation That Would Continue Until Bacon S Death Thirty Years Later Fascinated By The Artist S Brilliance And Charisma, Peppiatt Accompanied Him On His Nightly Round Of Prodigious Drinking From Grand Hotel To Louche Club And Casino, Seeing All Aspects Of Bacon S Gilded Gutter Life And Meeting Everybody Around Him, From Lucian Freud And Sonia Orwell To East End Thugs From Predatory Homosexuals To Andy Warhol And The Duke Of Devonshire He Also Frequently Discussed Painting With Bacon In His Studio, Where Only The Artist S Closest Friends Were Ever Admitted The Soho Photographer, John Deakin, Who Introduced The Young Student To The Famous Artist, Called Peppiatt Bacon S Boswell Despite The Chaos Bacon Created Around Him Peppiatt Managed To Record Scores Of Their Conversations Ranging Over Every Aspect Of Life And Art, Love And Death, The Revelatory And Hilarious As Well As The Poignantly Tragic Gradually Bacon Became A Kind Of Father Figure For Peppiatt, And The Two Men S Lives Grew Closely Intertwined In This Intimate And Deliberately Indiscreet Account, Bacon Is Shown Close Up, Grand And Petty, Tender And Treacherous By Turn, And Often Quite Unlike The Myth That Has Grown Up Around Him This Is A Speaking Portrait, A Living Likeness, Of The Defining Artist Of Our Times
Michael Peppiatt s memoir of life with the great painter Francis Bacon is rich in alcohol and every expensive meal they ate If Peppiatt added recipes to this book, it would have been one of the great cookbooks of all time On the other hand, we have lives here that spent the greatest of all possible times Depression is around the corner, but when you re drinking the finest alcoholic drinks and eating food like today will be your last, it is hard to feel sorry for the participants in Bacon s life The one thing I love about Francis Bacon is his mystique On one level, he s very obvious and seems to be easy to read, but the truth is that he s quite a complex character Peppiatt s memoir or narrative mainly takes place in Soho London and Paris One can t imagine Bacon existing in another city than those two Bacon, is without a doubt, one of the great citizens of London Who wouldn t want to spend time under his identity as a guide to the underworld of various expensive restaurants, nightclubs and numerous often seedy bars In his world, painters as well as East End gangsters show up, and is a heady mix of a sense of danger and having a great meal at the same time Francis Bacon In Your Blood is just as complex as its subject matter Peppiatt is known for his excellent Bacon biography Anatomy Of An Enigma Of the two, the biography is the better book The memoir here is almost like a sketch book of notes regarding the author s time with Bacon, which overall, was pretty intense Bacon, I suspected, that once he liked you, one is forever in his circle till he either destroys you or fatten you up and in no way or fashion could I have existed in his world just on the drinking and eating of extremely rich foods The fact that he lived to the of 80 something is remarkable, considering his drinking and eating habits The excess of his life is fully exposed in Peppiatt s memoir, and what is interesting is how one can survive such a pleasurable nightmare Peppiatt does all the right things in his book, but I feel it needs a stronger editorial help A lot of the stories are repeated by Bacon as they were in real life , but not necessary in a book form This is a huge book, and I think it would have been a better read if it was half its size The only thing that I found interesting in Peppiatt, besides his closeness to his subject matter, is when he became an editor of Art International Mostly due to my interest in publishing If he was going to write on anything else besides Bacon, I would have liked to read actually about his publishing a magazine The fact that Peppiatt is straight and compared to Bacon s other colorful friends, he doesn t come off that interesting I m not clear why Bacon found him so interesting enough to put him squarely in his world Perhaps he needed someone that was sort of neutral in his life, so he can talk Perhaps like one who confesses to a priest, he needed a listener who wouldn t have an attitude towards him And in most cases, Peppiatt was a very good friend and listener to Bacon s rants, complaints, and his love for the dirty life of Soho London and elsewhere. Adrian Scarborough reads Michael Peppiatt s intimate and indiscreet account of his thirty year friendship with the defining artist of our time.Michael Peppiatt met Francis Bacon in June 1963 in Soho s French House to request an interview for a student magazine Bacon invited him to lunch, and over oysters and Chablis they began a friendship and a no holds barred conversation that would continue until Bacon s death in 1992.The Soho photographer, John Deakin, who introduced the young student to the famous artist, called Peppiatt Bacon s Boswell And for decades, Peppiatt accompanied Bacon on his nightly round of prodigious drinking from grand hotel to louche club to casino, witnessing all aspects of Bacon s gilded gutter life , as well as meeting the likes of Lucian Freud, East End thugs, Andy Warhol and the Duke of Devonshire He also frequently discussed painting with Bacon in his studio, where only the artist s closest friends were ever admitted.Despite the chaos Bacon created around him Peppiatt managed to record scores of their conversations ranging over every aspect of life and art, love and death And here he shows Bacon close up, grand and petty, tender and treacherous by turn, and often quite unlike the myth that has grown up around him.Episode 1 5 Under the Spell the young ingenue Peppiatt is taken into Bacon s circle.2 5 Bacon s Boswell Peppiatt becomes Bacon s Boswell, and there is mischief in Morocco3 5 The dregs are what I prefer high and low life in Paris.4 5 Poor George life, death and guilt5 5 A Kind of Immortality Peppiatt loses a father , and becomes a man.Reader Adrian ScarboroughWriter Michael Peppiatt is an art historian, curator and writer His 1996 biography of Francis Bacon was chosen as a Book of the Year by the New York Times. A memoir of Francis Bacon was always going to interest me, but this exceeded my expectations by a long way I find the character of Bacon and his voice so fascinating and even addictive and this memoir by Peppiatt fully enters you into the world that Bacon inhabited From the big drinking sessions in restaurants, drifting around Soho and into The Colony Room, i just couldn t get enough of the energy Bacon gave off Along with those legendary food and wine sessions came interactions with a host of people including Sonia Orwell, George Dyer, Lucian Freud and such was the intimacy of it, I almost felt part of it When i was away from the book, I found myself thinking of Francis and the things he said, the book stuck with me wherever i went I find Francis to be an inspiration and although his art was very dark at times and he obviously had his own demons, he lived life to the fullest and withheld nothing I can only imagine what it must have been like to know this extraordinary man but such is the quality of this memoir, a good glimpse of it is shown.The closing epilogue was powerful, friends and the good times shared now gone as the author stands around Francis s old studio on the rue de Birague, paying tribute to all the fascinating people he has encountered during his times with Francis.Quoting Nietzsche throughout Francis states There it is Life is all we have and since the whole thing is meaningless, we might as well be as brilliant as we can. Completely perfect From BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week Adrian Scarborough reads Michael Peppiatt s intimate and indiscreet account of his thirty year friendship with the defining artist of our time.Michael Peppiatt met Francis Bacon in June 1963 in Soho s French House to request an interview for a student magazine Bacon invited him to lunch, and over oysters and Chablis they began a friendship and a no holds barred conversation that would continue until Bacon s death in 1992.The Soho photographer, John Deakin, who introduced the young student to the famous artist, called Peppiatt Bacon s Boswell And for decades, Peppiatt accompanied Bacon on his nightly round of prodigious drinking from grand hotel to louche club to casino, witnessing all aspects of Bacon s gilded gutter life , as well as meeting the likes of Lucian Freud, East End thugs, Andy Warhol and the Duke of Devonshire He also frequently discussed painting with Bacon in his studio, where only the artist s closest friends were ever admitted.Despite the chaos Bacon created around him Peppiatt managed to record scores of their conversations ranging over every aspect of life and art, love and death And here he shows Bacon close up, grand and petty, tender and treacherous by turn, and often quite unlike the myth that has grown up around him.Reader Adrian ScarboroughWriter Michael Peppiatt is an art historian, curator and writer His 1996 biography of Francis Bacon was chosen as a Book of the Year by the New York Times.Abridger Richard HamiltonProducer Justine Willett.Episode 1 The young ingenue Peppiatt is taken into Bacon s circle.Episode 2 Peppiatt becomes Bacon s Boswell, and there is mischief in Morocco.Episode 3 High and low life in Paris.Episode 4 Death, guilt and inspiration.Episode 5 Peppiatt loses a father , and becomes a man.http www.bbc.co.uk programmes b066v39q 19 AUG 2015 recommended by Bettie Thanks I really liked this book It is well written and multifaceted It s true that there is some repetition of things Francis Bacon said but I think he repeated them because he thought they were important and didn t want them to be forgotten by his faithful friend and biographer He would also paint the same subject in multiple studies, another form of his repetition and underscoring of important ideas and images There seemed to be a need for ways than one to say the same thing As I read, I would research his and other artists work that was being referred to so that it was also a wonderful visual and even auditory journey I have always loved Francis Bacon s paintings and certainly have seen his influence on my own work It s fabulous to be privy to his everyday life It is just unbelievable how this man who was a prodigious drinker was able to create the way the did I found it horribly interesting that he said when he had a very bad hangover he worked well because he could only focus on one thought at a time It was all he could do Of course, that thought was to paint Because we come from nothing and go to nothing, and in between there s only the brilliance of life, even it means nothing FB After Nietzsche 13 357I want a deeply ordered image, you see, but I want it to come about by chance You always hope that the paint will do for you, but mostly it s like painting a wall when the very first brushstroke you do gives a sudden shock of reality that is cancelled out as you paint the whole surface FB 30What what wants in art nowadays is a shorthand where the sensation comes across right away FB 30 D you you know I think one thing about artists is that they remain much constant to their childhood sensations Other people often change completely, but artists tend to stay much the way they ve always been FB 34 When I was very young I found this marvellous translation of AeschylusIt had these images in it I thought so beautiful they ve been with me ever since The reek of human blood smiles out at me was one Then there was this other one I can t quite remember about Clytemnestra sitting over her sorrow like a hen They are superbly visual I feel myself very close to the world of Greek tragedyoften, in my painting, I have this sensation of following a long call from antiquity FB 48There s a caf I pass every day that s full of people gesticulating wildly, which I avoid because I imagine the noise inside must be overwhelming Then I go in one afternoon out of curiosity and am astonished to find it s completely silent because the city s deaf mutes all congregate here to communicate in sign language FB 78When he tells me that he first thought he wanted to be a poet then realized deep down he wanted to be a poem, I know I want to go on seeing him FB 79 I m only trying to deform into truth, Francis says After all, photography has done so much, so how are you to make a portrait nowadays unless you can bring what s called the facts of someone s appearance directly and violently back on to the nervous system You have to deform the image There it is If I didn t have to live, I wouldn t let any of this out 85Yet it s not a mess, it s an extraordinary, visually riveting creation Bacon s studio Anywhere you look you could scoop up an armload of fascinating images..You could scuffle to and fro throwing up new images, other strata, all the time because this carpet of heads and limbs and bodies, some killed, some with terrible wounds, is at least ankle deep And I guess that s exactly what Francis does as he walks up to his painting and back as he works, constantly kicking up new combinations, new visual suggestions, triggers of ideas , as he calls thempaint the real hero of the room over which it has established its dominion Well, there it is, Francis says, I live in this kind of squalor But it s useful This is my compost, It s the compost out of which my paintings come Fifty years from now, people will see how simple the distortions I make really are I ve deliberately simplified myself I m simply complicated 86 It s just the same in painting So much has already been done and then photography has cancelled out so many other possibilities When I started painting I needed extreme subject matter And then I found my subjects through my life I mean one s work is really a kind of diary or an autobiography FB 88does Francis nurture it because he knows the deeper the guilt the potent the images will be 93I m not trying to say anything in particular in my work I m simply trying to convey my sensations about existence at the deepest level I canpeople live behind screens And perhaps, every now and then, my paintings record life and the way things are when some of those screens have been cleared away FB 111 Painting has had so many possibilities cancelled out by photography that it s and a question of trying to deepen the game through instinct and chance FB 116 I ve been very lucky to make a living out of something that obsesses me FB 135Somehow you have to get the paint down in such a curious way that it comes back on to the nervous system exactly and profoundly If this image is going to be worth making at all, you see, it has to unlock sensation at a deeper level Otherwise a photograph can so the whole thing much better FB 138My impression is that you re working way outside photography while actually absorbing a lot of its techniques, I MP say, a bit the way photography did when it first appeared and had to appropriate so much from painting 138I only want the sensation without the boredom of its conveyanceI ve always believed that great art comes out of reinventing what s called fact, what we know of our existence a reconcentration that tears away the veils that fact, or truth acquires over time To have something like the whole sea at the end of a kind of box you could look into So small and yet to have the whole sea in it FB 139There are only a few great works where technique and subject are so closely interlocked that you can t separate one from the otherFB 148I think Degas pastels are among the greatest things ever made FB149 What I do may be a lie, but it conveys reality accurately That s a very complex thing After all, it s not so called realist painters who manage to convey reality best FB 149 Painting 1946 I myself quite like it because it has something really artificial about it, and I think all art that s worth looking at is deeply artificialArt itself is an artifice It s an illusion, and if an image is going to work it has to be reinvented artificially Reality has to be reinvented to convey the intensity of the real FB 151After all, most people are neither one thing or another Homo heterosexual They re just waiting for something to happen to them FB 157There s nothing you can do about death Death exists only for the living FB 164 If they were sitting in front of me, they would inhibit me and I couldn t practise on them the injury I inflict on my work I like to be alone with the way I remember them And I hope to bring them back poignantly and violently FB 165Art s above all a question of going too far FB 191 as I ve got older, I have to say, I think less and less about happiness, because my interest has grown much for my work than my life FB 255 Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends, FB 316 You ve only got to look in the shop windows to see there s nothing left any It s like Munich You can feel a disaster s coming just by looking in the shop s windows FB 326It s Francis himself who exists in circular time, drawing me into it by the power of his presence In this particular moment all the tenses have been laid out side by side The sensation is all encompassing, as though one had stepped into a parallel universe, and for a long time it made me intensely anxious, as if I were under the influence of an unknown drug 327Something in Francis himself reached back to the ancient mysteries, like the Sphinx or the Oracle of Delphi, reverberating across the centuries with their enigma intactHis work poses the most searching questions about existence, questions that are asked from one civilization to the next because no lasting answer is found Why is man created, alone among the animals on earth, in the acute consciousness of his mortality Should we not assume our animality, display our passions and contradictions without shame openly pant, roar and scream What meaning, if there is a meaning at all, can we attribute to our brief span Francis incorporated the tensions of being human into the very grain of his paint Examined close up, the swirling impasto appears encoded with specific evidence, specific human traces that continue to rehearse and echo our fraught existence That is perhaps the underlying reason why his figures, spun out of this infinitely suggestive stuff, come across as a concentrate of all the impulses and confusions of our flesh, unresolved and shockingly alive 337 It s sort of inspiring to read about the way Francis Bacon would spend money endless rounds of drinks for himself and all his friends and plenty of people who became his friends because he bought them drinks , dinner night after night at the most expensive restaurants in Paris and London, him always footing the bill for everyone All in all, a fat fucking pig wallowing in excess While I don t exactly dream of being rich, it makes me think maybe I could stand to be a little bit looser, generous Maybe I should start buying drinks for random people, taking homeless people out to dinner, etcEverything about Francis Bacon is inspiring in one way or another Luxury is less than half the story However, it s the part that s easiest to tell, given that the well heeled generally have a better chance of surviving and writing books Michael Peppiatt has already written the definitive biography Francis Bacon Anatomy Of An Enigma What he does here is much personal, a memoir of his own friendship with the man They met in the sixties when Peppiatt was a young student fresh out of Oxford and Bacon had already achieved great success and notoriety in postwar Britain Their relationship would last until Bacon s death in 92, and though Peppiatt knew him well it s clear there were realms which the younger man could only dimly intuit Here he is in the 70 s, alone with a room full of BaconsAre these things essentially about sex I suddenly wonder No one as far as I know has ever suggested this before Far from an anguished record of our brutal times, from death camp to nuclear bomb, are the flailings and gougings, the twisted limbs and half obliterated heads a kind of paen to the further reaches of sadomaschochistic coupling Is this an extended love song I practically had to gasp when I read this, as it seemed so true yet rarely said It s the most natural thing in the world for figurative painters to paint their lovers and lust objects No one would think of denying this of, say, Picasso or Gauguin Yet Bacon s sexuality still feels weirdly closeted His reputation extends well beyond some niche ghetto of gay sm art He s often, if not universally, regarded as one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century So perhaps it s a little embarrassing for many to acknowledge that so much of his work depicts the extremes of a certain kind of love Better to focus instead on themes which are allegedly universal In any case, Peppiatt himself is heterosexual and, it would appear, pretty vanilla in his proclivities He accompanies Bacon to gala openings and drinking bouts with the beau monde of the art world, but hears only rumors of the man s sexual adventures I personally would have liked to read about Bacon s cruising habits, how exactly he pursued the rough trade he so adored throughout his life But then of course this lacuna isn t really Peppiatt s fault Bacon wanted it that way While extremely effusive and open in some respects, he was also careful to cultivate secrecy and separation between the various aspects of his life Our friends never let us into their lives completely The narrator tells the artists he d going to be a father and the artist, by then a very old man, reacts thusAnd I hope I just hope that if it s a monster or something, or even if the thing doesn t have all what s called its five fingers and all its five toes you ll just do it in and get rid of it Do you see Do you see what I mean Just do it in and get rid of it altogether Here I think we find another great example of Francis Bacon as role model Indeed I myself had a similar response when my brother announced he and his wife were having a baby. If you picked up Michael Peppiatt s book looking for a biography of Bacon, you re going to be disappointed Yes, there are plenty of facts here But no, Bacon biog isn t the point This is a book about Peppiatt, himself Actually, it s of a Venn diagram about how the writer s life intersects with Bacon, though I must admit I am picturing such a diagram being loosely sketched on canvas by Francis himself, using the bin lid he kept for such circumference related purposes To be fair, this book isn t sold as an artist biography Peppiatt has already written one of those, the well received Francis Bacon Anatomy of an Enigma This is his own story, which is intriguing enough, given that aside from his Bacon connection inescapable as may be , the author is a writer of note in the art world, having run Art International for a number of years, and managed to piss off MOMA with a bad review to such an extent that legal action seemed terrifyingly likely As someone who s been involved in similar things, I must say the feeling of pants shitting dread is exceptionally well captured here But before all this, there s just a young bloke, seeking an interview with an artist, for a student publication And that young bloke is taken under the Bacon wing for the next thirty years, and made privy to the artist s thoughts and works in progress, with the aid of frankly terrifying amounts of alcohol and oysters Seriously, the reason this book will never inspire a drinking game is because it would kill you Yes, even youWithnail Isurvivors What happens in the work is that we re given a Bacon freed from the strictures of biography There s dates, sure, because without chronology the story would collapse into a morass of boozy recollection But it s a impressionistic version of events It s almost like the smears, the distortions on the artists s work We see Bacon as a player in the life of another, instead of the star of his own tale, as one would find in Daniel Farson s book, say, or in David Sylvester s book of interviews There s a candid feeling to the work here, and while I knew nothing much of Peppiatt before I began to read, I followed his journeys between London and Paris let s face it, who s not a sucker for the Marais and his shoulder rubbings with his heroes with interest This book exist as Peppiatt took to writing down Bacon s words after nights out Helpfully, when in his cups, the artist frequently restated himself, thus searing his gilded gutter pronouncements into the author s brain, eventually providing enough typed pages for a book, decades later, that was first approved and then sunk by Bacon, for fear of offending the living But it s the way the Soho inhabitants and Bacon hangers on live in these pages that make the work so appealing Bacon s rough trade lover George is adroitly captured with East End patois And here, than anywhere else I ve read, is the tongue of Muriel Belcher, mistress of the Colony Room, given wonderful attention From her corner stool, Muriel leans over and taps Francis sharply on the arm You re not a superstar, she says rapidly You re just a cunt, dear Well I suppose I am, Francis concedes, almost gratefully If you say so Who s a cunt now queries an adjacent drinker, swinging his grey face up from a long brood and pushing back a lank of lifeless hair The big one s been calling him a superstar, dear, Muriel explains kindly so I said he s not a superstar he s just a cunt You didn t think I was talking about you you silly old ballock, did you, dear There s been hints in other Bacon books, but the full flight Muriel has only been captured here, I feel Also interesting was the way Sonia Orwell was portrayed terminally unhappy, yet grudgingly accepting of Peppiatt, given time Indeed, the description of Orwell lambasting Bacon after George s suicide was brilliant an anger I d never heard voiced in other texts Between Belcher and Orwell, there s depth given to the high and low times of Bacon s life, even if he s not, technically, the subject of the work There s a certain element of self aggrandisement at work here Peppiatt refers to himself as Bacon s Boswell at times, and I must admit I cringed I think he s on the money when he discusses the difference between the father figure of Francis and his own, bipolar father There s very much a sense of a man looking for a father, and this clearly comes across in the interactions between the two, though it does seem strange considering Bacon as paternal rather than wildly avuncular I found there was a bit of weird musing over homosexuality in the work, and Peppiatt seems kind of appalled at times by the prospect, which seems odd given that he moved in the world of Polari and gay men, closeted or otherwise It s not judgemental, for the most part, and seems to have been edited to below the surface, but I did find pretty weak the author s belief that Francis was pissed at him for having a child because it took him into some kind of hetrosexual zone the artist couldn t enter Fuh Regardless of these qualms, this is a book any fancier of Bacon should read It s a handy adjunct to Peppiatt s proper biography of the artist, and is filthier and rough and ready You ll probably learn about Bacon and creampies than you ever needed to But it s loving, and does not seem to be disrespectful or cheap mining of memory this is a tribute to a friend, a pugnacious father and a heroic piss artist, and it s good fun.