Élevé dans une Irlande rurale dont il aura tôt fait de rejeter le poids des conventions, Francis Bacon trouve dans le Londres puis le Paris des années 1920 les sources d'une inspiration plus conforme à sa démesure. Ses premières oeuvres, animées d'une violence aussi vitale que destructrice, dérangent. L'intransigeance de sa vision ainsi que sa virtuosité picturale l'imposent cependant sur la scène artistique d'après-guerre. Consacré comme un des peintres les plus originaux du XXe siècle, Francis Bacon deviendra également une légende vivante des milieux de débauche : son goût revendiqué pour les beuveries, le jeu et les orgies a repoussé chaque fois un peu plus loin les limites de la création chez cet artiste exigeant dont l'oeuvre, devenue exemplaire de notre modernité, exprime avec fureur les soubresauts d'une humanité convulsive. Michael Peppiatt signe ici une biographie de référence, enrichie dans cette nouvelle édition d'éléments inconnus jusqu'à aujourd'hui. Il fait ainsi apparaître les multiples facettes de cet artiste provocateur et secret et nous livre les grandes clés d'explication de son oeuvre.
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 1963 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.
Published in 1996, Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma was the first in-depth study of the artist's life. It has not been superseded.In this substantially revised, updated edition - to coincide with the artist's centenary, which will be celebrated from autumn 2008 through summer 2009 - Peppiatt will incorporate confidential material Bacon gave him, which he did not include in the first edition. This valuable, first-hand information comes from the hundreds of conversations Bacon had with Peppiatt, often late into the night, over thirty years, particularly during the periods Bacon spent living and working in Paris. It includes insights into Bacon's intimate relationships, his artistic convictions and his general view of life, as well as his acerbic comments on his contemporaries.Peppiatt will draw on some of the fascinating information that has become available in the fifteen years since the artist died. Once jealously guarded by the artist himself, the contents of Bacon's studio can now be freely consulted; Peppiatt has had privileged access to these archives, and he will show how a number of recent discoveries - including wholly unexpected source material - have radically changed the way we look at Bacon's work. Similarly, his recent research into the artist's background - his tortured affair with the sadistic Peter Lacy in Tangier, for instance, and the baffling circumstances of his death in Madrid - will shed light on unexplored areas of Bacon's life and work. Peppiatt will also unveil new information from several people who knew Bacon intimately and who have never gone on record previously.