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    CROUCHING DYER, HIDDEN BACON

    Tuesday, March 26th, 2024

    Francis Bacon’s haunting Portrait of George Dyer Crouching comes up at Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in New York in May. It is the first in a series of ten monumental portraits of Dyer created between 1966 and 1968 and it has never been on the auction market before. Dyer is portrayed shirtless, crouched over his discarded shirt like a predator over his prey, his head depicted in triplicate as it turns towards the viewer, combining Dyer’s face with Bacon’s, nodding to their indivisibility. This image of the entwined head is among the best examples within Bacon’s oeuvre – a significant motif that would persist throughout his work. The revolutionary impact that Dyer and Bacon had on each other’s lives can be felt palpably here, as the first painting in a series that would, over years, chronicle the seduction and sadness, frustration and fulfillment, tension and collapse that underlined one of the most tempestuous relationships in art history.

    It was acquired from The Marlborough Gallery in 1970 and has not been on the market since. It is the first full-scale portrait of Dyer at auction since another from this same cycle, George Dyer Talking, sold in 2014 for $70 million – establishing the record for any single-panel portrait by Bacon. The centerpiece of Francis Bacon: Man and Beast held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2022 Portrait of George Dyer Crouching is estimated at between $30 million and $50 million.

    BACON PORTRAIT OF GEORGE DYER AT SOTHEBY’S IN MARCH

    Friday, February 23rd, 2024
    Francis Bacon –  Study of George Dyer UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £6.8 MILLION

    Francis Bacon’s last intimately scaled portrait of his lover George Dyer shortly before his tragic death comes up at Sotheby’s in London on March 6. Acquired directly from the Marlborough Gallery in London in 1970, the year it was painted the portrait is charged with extraordinary intimacy and framed within a seductive dark background. The depiction of Dyer – at the time, the love of Bacon’s life – was selected by the artist for inclusion in his major retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris held in the autumn of 1971. The work was briefly seen in 1993, when it was included in an exhibition of the artist’s small portrait studies at the Marlborough Gallery, after which it went back onto its owners wall until now. It is estimated at £5 – £7 million.

    The major retrospective of Bacon’s work at the Grand Palais was of great personal significance to Bacon as it marked only the first time after Picasso – Bacon’s artist hero – that a living artist had been afforded a one-man show at the prestigious venue. The monumental occasion celebrating the artist’s already stellar career was, however, marred by an event which would leave Bacon grief-stricken: barely thirty-six hours before the opening, Dyer was found dead from an overdose of sleeping pills, exacerbated by alcohol abuse, in the hotel suite the pair shared. Despite suffering from numbing shock and a despairing guilt, Bacon continued with the opening apparently unabated, though the shadow Dyer cast over Bacon would linger for the rest of his life.

    The Dyer portrait leads a powerful and arresting group of twentieth-century artworks from a distinguished private collection at Sotheby’s in London this March.. Assembled with unfaltering energy and focus over some sixty years, the paintings, sculpture and drawings that comprise the collection are linked by a common thread – an unwavering interest in the human form by artists at the peak of their powers who sought to convey the emotions and forces that govern and dictate the human condition. Art by Chaïm Soutine, Jean Dubuffet, Henry Moore, Henri Matisse, Edouard Vuillard and Henri Hayden will be presented in Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary evening and day auctions on March 6 and 7. A further selection of works from this collection will be offered across a range of sales in London up until June. They were sourced principally in the late 1960s and the 1970s, chiefly from the leading London galleries of the moment such as Marlborough, Alex Reid & Lefevre, Waddington, Crane Kalman and Redfern.

    BACON’S LANDSCAPE NEAR MALABATA, TANGIER AT CHRISTIE’S

    Friday, February 16th, 2024
    Francis Bacon –  Landscape near Malabata, Tangier (1963). UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £19.6 MILLION

    Francis Bacon’s Landscape near Malabata, Tangier (1963), a painting that stands as a powerful and passionate memorial to his great love Peter Lacy, will be a highlight at Christie’s 20th/21st Century evening sale in London on March 7. Created in London the year after Lacy’s tragic death in Tangier, the painting depicts the landscape where he was laid to rest. Here, the artist pays tribute to their relationship in a unique image of grief, desire, and longing. Having remained in the same collection for more than 20years, this marks the first time the painting has been offered at auction since 1985 when it set a then world auction record for Francis Bacon. The estimate now is £15 – £20 million. Often exhibited internationally  it was included in the landmark 1971-72 lifetime retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris, and was most recently exhibited in the Royal Academy’s ‘Francis Bacon: Man and Beast’, in 2022. Francis Bacon met Peter Lacy at the Colony Room in Soho in 1952. Lacy, a former fighter pilot, was a deeply troubled man whose mercurial personality wrote its way into Bacon’s life and art. The two shared deep, complex feelings towards one another.

    1969 SELF-PORTRAIT BY BACON AT CHRISTIE’S IN MAY

    Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023
    Francis Bacon – Self-Portrait (1969). UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $34,622,500

    Francis Bacon’s landmark Self-Portrait from 1969 is among 16 exceptional modern and post war paintings from the collection of S.I. Newhouse to be sold at Christie’s in New York next May. There are masterworks by artists including Picasso, de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden and Lee Bontecou. The Bacon portrait is estimated at in excess of $20 million and the entire collection at more than $144 million.

    Alex Rotter, Christie’s Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, remarked: “S.I. Newhouse’s brilliance was undeniable and his art collecting held a rare quality of excellence. As a collector, he bought and sold with the deepest levels of consideration and intention—which over decades, led to the evolution of a singular collection. Last November, we saw with the Collection of Paul. G. Allen that the market for true masterpieces is as strong as ever. Building on this momentum, we could not be prouder to present this selection of masterpieces from the S.I. Newhouse Collection this May.”

    S.I. Newhouse (1927-2017) ranks among the most revered connoisseur art collectors in modern history. He is credited with redefining the contemporary art market in the 1980s, with his acquisition of Jasper Johns’s False Start; in the 1990s, with his acquisition of Andy Warhol’s Orange Marilyn; and in the 2010s, with the 2019 sale of Jeff Koons’ 1986 sculpture Rabbit at Christie’s New York for $91,075,000, establishing the record price for work by any living artist. As the co-owner of a media empire that included Condé Nast, publisher of leading publications such as The New YorkerVogueVanity Fair, and Architectural Digest, as well as newspapers across America, Mr. Newhouse was a visionary cultural figure whose enduring impact continues to inform and inspire generations worldwide.

    HIGHEST GROSSING FRIEZE WEEK SALE AT SOTHEBY’S SINCE 2015

    Saturday, October 15th, 2022
    Francis Bacon – Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes sold for £24,300,000

    Three Studies for a Portrait of Henrietta Moraes sold for £24,300,000 in London last night. The Now and Contemporary auctions achieved a total of £96.1 million in the highest grossing Frieze Week evening sale at Sotheby’s since 2015. Gerhard Richter’s 192 Farben (192 Colours) sold for £18,287,800. There was a new record for Frank Auerbach whose Head of J.Y.M. made £5,648,800 and new records were set for Caroline Walker, Julien Nguyen and Kiki Kogelnik. Nobody Put Baby in the Corner by Flora Yukhnovich made £1,608,000,  Cecily Brown’s Beautiful Not Realistic made £1.8 million over a high estimate of £800,000 and Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets (QOTP:) made £3.4 million.

    INSIDE THE WORLD OF FRANCIS BACON AT SOTHEBY’S

    Tuesday, October 11th, 2022
    FRANCIS BACON’S PALETTE

    Inside the World of Francis Bacon: Works from the Collection of Majid Boustany at Sotheby’s in Paris on October 24 is a capsule collection which will include twenty works spanning over fifty years. There is art by Bacon, historic objects of ephemera, works by Bacon’s acquaintances such as Graham Sutherland, Louis Le Brocquy and Roy de Maistre, as well as portraits of the artist by photographers such as Cecil Beaton, Don McCullin and Peter Beard.

    The most expensively estimated lot, at €3.5 million – €5 million, is Figure Crouching from 1949 which has never been on the market before. There is an image of Francis Bacon by Louis le Brocquy which is estimated at €12,000-€18,000. Bacon’s palette is estimated at €20,000-€30,000.

    Francis Bacon – ‘Figure Crouching’

    BACON PORTRAIT OF FREUD AT SOTHEBY’S

    Friday, June 17th, 2022
    Francis Bacon – Study for Portrait of Lucian Freud, 1964 (Estimate in excess of £35 million) Courtesy Sotheby’s. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £43,336,000

    Francis Bacon’s magnetic portrait of Lucian Freud will highlight British Art: The Jubilee Auction at Sotheby’s in London on June 29. Paintined in 1964 the full-length portrait illuminates the powerful dialogue of friendship and epochal rivalry which would engulf two titans of art history and spur them to create some of their greatest works. The pair had first met 20 years earlier and would go on to share an intense friendship for over 40 years until jealousy and petty rows would ultimately splinter relations forever in the mid-1980’s.

    Though their visual styles differed considerably, both artists were deeply committed to the human figure, painting each other on numerous occasions over the years. Indeed, for Bacon, Freud would become a recurrent – and one of the most significant – subjects of his work in the 1960’s. Bacon believed that: “the living quality is what you have to get. In painting a portrait, the problem is to find a technique by which you can give over all the pulsations of a person…The sitter is someone of flesh and blood and what has to be caught is their emanation.”

    The black and white photographs taken by their mutual friend John Deakin would become Bacon’s primary source material as he painted Freud obsessively. Of great personal significance, Bacon would keep these photographs with him for the rest of his life, and they were rediscovered torn, crumpled and splattered with paint in his studio following his death.

    BIG GAME ART HUNTERS STILL OUT IN FORCE

    Saturday, May 14th, 2022
    Paul Cezanne – Clairiere (The Glade) at Sotheby’s in New York next Tuesday. UPDATE: THIS MADE $41,688,500

    THE big game hunters of the global art world are out in force right now.  There are rich pickings for the super rich in a stellar round of May sales in New York sales showcasing major artistic movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. At Christie’s last Monday evening Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn from the collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann of Zurich sold for a record $195 million (€184,421,250). The 40 square inch canvas became the most expensive 20th century artwork ever sold. In 1964 Warhol developed a time intensive new process and used it to create a limited number of portraits – including Shot Sage Blue Marilyn – before abandoning the technique.  The painting has been exhibited at galleries including the Guggenheim, New York, the Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London. The 36 works from this collection realised $317.8 million (€300,610,198),  All proceeds will directly benefit the Ammann Foundation’s global efforts to create healthcare and education programmes for children.

    With everyone from Monet and Degas to Balthus and Wayne Thibaud Christie’s delivered in style this week. At this stage the running total for their Marquee Week spring sales is $1.36 billion. The Post War and Contemporary art day sale yesterday achieved $97 million.

    Next it is the turn of Sotheby’s.  Their six sales with 800 lots carry a combined estimate of over $1 billion (€950,800,000) on a level with their record setting season last November.  Then the Macklowe Collection of 35 artworks made $676 million (€642.9 million) after real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda were ordered by a judge to sell their collection and split the proceeds during their 2018 divorce trial. Another 30 works from their collection come up next Monday evening with artists like Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, Sigmar Polke, Donald Judd, Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Anselm Kiefer, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and Andy Warhol.

    The Modern evening auction on Tuesday is the most expensively estimated in the category at Sotheby’s for 15 years.   It will feature one of Monet’s finest Venetian works, a 1932 portrait of Marie Therese Walter by Picasso and The Glade by Paul Cezanne.  These three works alone are expected to bring in around $150 million (€142.6 million).

    On Thursday the Now evening auction and the Contemporary evening auction will bring this months series of marquee evening auctions to a close.  The Now sale will open the evening with ten consecutive works by women artists including Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Christina Quarles, Jennifer Packer and Tracey Emin.
    Highlights of the Contemporary evening auction are Study for Red Pope 1962, 2nd version 1971 by Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly’s large scale Untitled from 1969, a silkscreen of Elvis by Andy Warhol and Cold Beer Beautiful Girls, a quintessential text painting by Ed Ruscha.  Who could ask for anything more?

    Francis Bacon Study of Red Pope 1962, 2nd version, 1971 at Sotheby’s, New York next Thursday evening. UPDATE: THIS MADE $46,284,500.

    BACON’S MEDITATION ON THE PASSAGE OF TIME AT CHRISTIE’S

    Thursday, February 10th, 2022
    Francis Bacon – Triptych 1986-7. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £38,459,206,

    ONE of Francis Bacon’s last great paintings, Triptych 1986-7, will come to auction for the first time at Christie’s 20th/21st Century on March 1. The London evening sale is a key auction within the 20/21 Shanghai to London series. This triptych, an extraordinary meditation on the passage of time and the solitude of the human condition, is estimated at £35-50 million. The suited figure in the left-hand panel is based on a press clipping of the US President Woodrow Wilson, stepping forward as he was leaving the Treaty of Versailles negotiations in 1919; the right-hand panel was inspired by a photograph of Leon Trotsky’s study taken after his assassination in 1940. In the centre sits a figure resembling Bacon’s then-partner John Edwards, his pose reminiscent of the artist’s beloved George Dyer in the haunting eulogy Triptych August 1972 (Tate, London). Widely exhibited throughout its lifetime, Triptych 1986-7 was most recently seen in the Centre Georges Pompidou’s acclaimed exhibition ‘Bacon en Toutes Lettres’(2019-20).

    The year after its creation, Triptych 1986-7 was one of 22 paintings shown at the Central House of Artists’ Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow: the first exhibition by a well-known artist from the West to take place in Soviet Russia. Many viewers did not recognise the Trotsky photograph as a source, but to those who did, the painting’s presence heralded a sea-change in the country’s political attitudes towards art: the Iron Curtain, notably, would fall the next year. It is one of a rare number of large-scale triptychs by Bacon to remain in private hands. Between 1962 and 1991, the artist produced just 28 such works measuring 78 by 58 inches, nearly half of which reside in museums worldwide. 

    IRISH AND INTERNATIONAL ART AT WHYTE’S

    Saturday, October 10th, 2020

    Given that 2020 vision turned out foggy it is good to see postponed Irish art going ahead.  At the eleventh hour Whyte’s had to reschedule their sale of Irish and International Art scheduled for September 28.  It is due to take place at Freemason’s Hall, Molesworth St. on October 19.  The highlight  is A Sunny Day, Connemara by Paul Henry (€150,000-€200,000).and there is work by artists like Roderic O’Conor, William Orpen, William Leech, Mary Swanzy, Mainie Jellett, Norah McGuinness, Maurice MacGonigal, Harry Kernoff, Francis Bacon, Colin Middleton, Gerard Dillon, Dan O’Neill, Louis le Brocquy, Tony O’Malley, Camille Souter, Donald Teskey and many others.  The sale is on view at Whyte’s from October 12 and both the catalogue and the auction are online.

    Coastal Report. by Donald Teskey. UPDATE: THIS MADE 23,000 AT HAMMER